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Tourism sector to move with times: Govt

TOURISM minister Nqobizitha Mangaliso Ndhlovu

TOURISM minister Nqobizitha Mangaliso Ndhlovu last week told NewsDay Business that the country will continue to adopt policies that reflect the shifting requirements and aspirations of visitors to increase revenue in the sector.

“The country will maintain the momentum of adopting strategies that conform to the changing needs and demands of tourists,” Ndhlovu said.

He added: “These include digital marketing, profiling unique experiences to tourists such as cultural and experiential tourism in communities.

“Over and above the traditional destination marketing strategies such as international travel fairs, roadshows, familiarisation programmes, advertising and many others will continue to be implemented to entice the travel world.”

He also urged the industry to continuously engage in infrastructural development to remain competitive.

Zimbabwe is endowed with many natural attractions and is home to one of the Seven Wonders of the World, the majestic Victoria Falls, which adds to the country’s allure. Tourism is one of the four key sectors that the government is banking on to drive economic recovery.

According to industry experts, the sector is vulnerable to non-productive taxation that essentially discriminates against travellers and travel companies in relation to goods and services similarly offered in other sectors.

It was the hardest hit when the COVID–19 scourge rattled the globe three years ago, forcing governments to enforce hard lockdowns.

Before the advent of COVID-19 in 2019, Zimbabwe’s annual tourism receipts were US$1,24 billion, a peak at the time.

With restrictions on domestic and foreign travel owing to the COVID-19 pandemic, annual tourism receipts fell to US$359 million in 2020 and slightly rose to US$397 million in 2021.

International air travel — the heart-throb of the industry’s operations — was grounded, as authorities battled to stem the deadly contagion.

Although pandemic lockdowns have since been relaxed across the world and the industry has been slowly recovering, in Zimbabwe, players have said they require funding to rebuild the sector.

In January, Ndhlovu revealed that although many initiatives had been implemented to improve the destination image and competitiveness, the country still needed to improve in terms of tourism product offering and support services.

“In terms of support services such as feeder roads to and within attractions, the government is implementing the road rehabilitation programme, however, there is still a lot of work to be done in this regard,” he said then.

“Similarly, there is a need to continue probing the ease of doing business in the country to make it more efficient and less costly. There is also a need to continue aggressive marketing of the destination.”

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