By Byron Mutingwende
Zimbabwe is “a World of Wonders” that is ready for tourism investors, Priscah Mupfumira, the minister of tourism and hospitality industry has said.
She reassured the audience at a cocktail reception held for tour operators at the Hilton Hotel in Durban on 9 May 2018 that the drive was in sync with the pronouncement by the President of the Republic of Zimbabwe, His Excellency Cde Emmerson Dambudzo Mnangagwa that “Zimbabwe is open for business.”
“I was here in South Africa in February on a re-engagement mission and I am delighted to be back again for the Africa Travel Indaba. During my last visit I was pleased to note that the South African tourism stakeholders were ready to increase their business to Zimbabwe. Some expressed that they were looking for new business opportunities beyond our Victoria Falls area. I am here today with our team tourism from my Ministry of Tourism and Hospitality Industry, the Zimbabwe Tourism Authority and our tourism operators for business interaction and to listen to your views.
“The presentation that was done by Mr. Ross Kennedy has no doubt convinced you that Zimbabwe is indeed A World of Wonders with rich natural and cultural resources. May I assure you that my government will continue to provide a conducive business environment in order for you to participate not only in our tourism industry but other related sectors,” Mupfumira said.
Dr. Karikoga Kaseke, the Chief Executive of the Zimbabwe Tourism Authority (ZTA) reiterated the fact that the tourism sector was witnessing a rapid growth, as indicated by tourist arrivals and increased flight frequencies at both Harare and the newly upgraded Victoria Falls International Airport.
South Africa is the largest tourist source market for Zimbabwe, contributing 716 234 arrivals in 2017, which represents 30% of total arrivals for that year.
However, during 2006 tourist arrivals from South Africa had reached a peak of 1.5 million accounting for 66% of total arrivals into the country for that year. Now we only receive 50% of what we received in 2006, of which we say had the growth path been maintained, Zimbabwe would be receiving well over 3 million visitors from this market.
“We therefore have a lot of work to do together to bring back that lost market share and what does this mean to all of us here, “business opportunities”
I am aware that the decline in tourist arrivals from South Africa was caused to a greater extent by our own actions and omissions. Therefore we are to blame and we accept the blame,” Dr. Kaseke said.
Minister Mupfumira that the new political leadership had a vision for Zimbabwe and a vision for Tourism in Zimbabwe.
“Government is committed to continually improve the business environment in order to grow our economy, which has lagged behind by almost eighteen years. Government has recently upgraded 27 countries from Category C to Category B pushing the total number of countries now in Category B to 117. This means that more visitors from different source markets can obtain visas at the port of entry and also enjoy multi destination packages being offered in our region.”
In its efforts to revive the South African market, road shows have been planned for Johannesburg and Cape Town later in the year as part of the Visit Zimbabwe Campaign.
Tendai Madziwanyika, the Chief Executive Officer of the Rainbow Tourism Group rallied tour operators in the region and world to rally behind Zimbabwe’s quest to reclaim its position as a re-awakening global tourism giant.