Derick Tsimba Post Corrrespondent
Zimbabwe’s tourism industry has the potential to turn around the economy through increased tourism activities at the country’s tourism resort areas.
Zimbabwe’s tourism industry activities aimed at turning around the economy have been given a major boost by the Operation Restore Legacy that unfolded on 14 November 2017 unveiling a new era, where Zimbabwe is open for business.
The military intervention in the country ushered in a new Government which ensured that Zimbabwe opened up for business. The new Government of Zimbabwe has since committed itself to honouring its obligations in relation to business, be it in the travel, trade and any related sector.
Over the years, Zimbabwe had lagged behind in many areas as a result of the global isolation due to the errors of the past. The isolation left Zimbabwe’s once-rich tourism sector in a sorry state.
As a way of regaining its status, the tourism industry should regain and improve its 30% market share which it used to receive from overseas market in the 90s when tourism was at its peak. Currently, this contribution has since dropped to less than 15% of the international arrivals into Zimbabwe mainly because of the negative image associated with the former president.
Major barriers affecting the growth of tourism in Zimbabwe are being removed, one of them being the numerous roadblocks that had become a menace to foreign tourists and local traffic. Tourists should be left to enjoy their drive around the country as they used to do in the past.
Government has also prioritised road maintenance of major roads, most of which are receiving urgent attention. Government has also committed itself to addressing hindrances that inhibit travel within Zimbabwe to ensure tourists travel from the point of entry and exit conveniently. Some of the convenience being initiated include the ease of facilitation at the border posts and the liberalization of the visa regime.
To date, Government has reviewed the visa regime with 29 countries which saw those countries being upgraded from Category C to Category B which facilitates tourists to attain visas at the port of entry.
Through these efforts, the Government has shown its readiness to welcome travellers to Zimbabwe and to promote the growth of the tourism industry.
Players in the tourism industry should utilise the numerous resources in the country that have the potential to become tourism attractions for the benefit of the nation through value addition and wealth creation.
The country has well known tourism attractions which include Victoria Falls, one of the Seven Wonders in the World. Zimbabwe has also been endowed with heritage sites and vast national parks which provide a relaxing experience to tourists.
Minister of Tourism and Hospitality Industry, Prisca Mupfumira has since been promoting the tourism industry abroad since she became the Minister. She is on record saying Zimbabwe has been of late presenting varied opportunities in various sectors such as mining, agriculture, health, aviation, manufacturing, water and most importantly in the tourism industry.
Opportunities have been unlocked in the Special Economic Zones and Trans-frontier Conservation Areas which will see the development of hotel and catering industry, safari and tour operations, gaming and construction of international conventions among other developments.
To support the sustenance of the tourism industry, Government has also committed itself to offering tourism investment incentives such as duty exemptions and rebates on capital goods for tourism development zones as well as the provision of the tourism fund.
With this in mind, tourists should consider Zimbabwe as their next destination for investment and tourism business. They are welcome in Zimbabwe which remains one of the most peaceful nations in the world. Tourists should be part of the transition to reposition Zimbabwe to its yesteryear glory. Zimbabwe has always been the favourable destination to visit, the tourist’s destination of choice and also the favourable investment destination for investors.