By Byron Mutingwende
The government is committed to increasing funding support to tourism and the Zimbabwe Tourism Authority (ZTA)’s marketing and development programmes, Vice President Retired General Dr Constantino Chiwenga has said.
The VP revealed this at the official opening of the 11th edition of the Sanganai Hlanganani Tourism Expo at the Zimbabwe International Trade Fair in Bulawayo on Thursday 6 September 2018.
“In Africa, South Africa has taken the lead in perfecting their marketing and creative platform, through Africa’s Travel Indaba, something which is possible. The government of Zimbabwe therefore is committed to increasing funding support for the tourism sector in general and the Zimbabwe Tourism Authority’s marketing and development programmes in particular.
“The minister of finance, Honourable Patrick Chinamasa, at the 10th edition of Sanganai Hlanganani gave commitments to increasing the budgetary support given to marketing the destination. Given the role the tourism sector plays in the country in terms of employment creation, the generation of new money, in foreign currency for that matter, and its contribution to national income and employment creation, I am confident that we can increase our tourist arrivals three fold from the current 2,4 million to well over 7 million in the next five years,” VP Chiwenga said.
The ZTA has come up with the Vision 2025, which is a tourism recovery and growth plan. With the support of government, Dr Karikoga Kaseke, the ZTA Chief Executive, said he would work hard with all tourism sector players towards surpassing Zimbabwe’s glory days and position the country as a must-visit destination globally.
“I am pleased by our good working relationship with all the tourism stakeholders who are all willing to embrace the Zimbabwe is open for business mantra as we work as a solid team towards making Destination Zimbabwe the most friendly, safest and most enjoyable experience. With adequate financial support and team spirit, we are ready to be the best,” Dr Kaseke said.
VP Chiwenga added that following the coming in of the new dispensation confidence in Destination Zimbabwe is being restored. That was made possible through visitor and business friendly policies escalated in the last eight months or so.
To that end, tourist arrivals and room occupancies at major destinations have been on a positive trajectory from January to June 2018. In Victoria Falls, arrivals have increased by a whopping 45% compared to the same period last year and room occupancies have been hovering around 95% to 110% over the same period.
With such occupancies, the VP said the government had seen it necessary to embark on investment drive to increase the room capacity in Victoria Falls.
“In this endeavour, on the 29th of July 2018, I officiated at the ground-breaking ceremony for the Feonirichi Investment Programme, which includes such projects as the seven-star 300 bedroomed hotel and other accommodation facilities, giving us an additional 200 room capacity and making it 500 rooms from one investor in the resort town. Other Investors such as Touch Road from China are also investing in a 300 room accommodation facility as part of their integrated resort,” VP Chiwenga said.
He added that a $15 million Tourism Support Facility had been established through the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe to support emerging and existing tourism businesses. The facility has been created as part of efforts by government to assist tourism operators upgrade and expand their facilities so as to give visitors value for money.
“Meanwhile, pursuant to the Tourism Recovery Plan enunciated in the National Tourism Sector Strategy, government is committed to support the tourism sector, through the establishment of the Tourism Recovery Fund. The fund will boost the budgetary allocations for destination promotion and wildlife conservation programmes. It will also help tourism operators to re-equip, re-tool, and renovate existing facilities, whilst encouraging the establishment of new investments.”