Govt to dispatch tourism attachés

Minister Mangaliso Ndlovu

GOVERNMENT is planning to dispatch tourism attachés to key global markets next year in a bid to rebuild the industry that is reeling from the impact of COVID-19,

The attachés will be deployed to Germany, France, United Kingdom, United States, India, South Africa, Japan and South Korea.

The attachés are required to promote Zimbabwe as a tourism destination and represent the interests of the country on the market.

Environment, Climate, Tourism and Hospitality Industry minister Mangaliso Ndhlovu told Newsday Business that the government was on a drive to increase Zimbabwe’s presence in key source markets.

“Over and above the synergies, the ministry is establishing a market presence in the country’s key tourism source markets. Two tourism attachés were deployed in August and September 2022 to China and the United Arab Emirates.

“An additional nine tourism attachés were recently appointed and are expected to be deployed in the first quarter of 2023 to Germany, France, United Kingdom, United States, India, South Africa, China and Japan. Physical presence in key source markets and joint synergies with the private sector will assist the government in promoting the destination internationally, attracting more tourists to the country,” he said.

This is not the first time the government has dispatched attachés across the world.

At various stages in the past decade, such officers have been deployed to help rebuild the country’s tourism sector, but they found the going tough as the country’s pariah status on the international arena held back arrivals.

Tourism, which used to generate about US$2 billion annually, suffered the sharpest knock following the outbreak of COVID-19 in 2020, grounding airlines and denting international travel. Arrivals plummeted by 90% as a result of hard lockdowns, according to recent Zimbabwe Tourism Authority data.

The first nine months of 2022 have seen a 165% rise in tourist arrivals to 693 498 from 261 415 in 2021. This is more than double the international arrivals received in the first nine months of 2021 (164 062). The average hotel occupancies for the first nine months of 2022 also had a significant growth from 21% in 2021 to 42% in 2022.

The performance was reinforced by domestic tourism which has remained dominant, contributing 95% of tourism business in 2022.

Meanwhile, tourism players have since called for the operationalisation of a revolving fund in the tourism sector which will go a long way in helping operators access funding for refurbishment, new investments and retooling.

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