MUTARE – Zimbabwe needs to urgently rebrand itself as a safe and top tourist destination if she is to boost tourist confidence, the Minister of Environment, Tourism and Hospitality Industry Prisca Mupfumira said this.
Addressing delegates at the Strategic Planning workshop of the Ministry of Environment, Tourism and Hospitality Industry at a local hotel Wednesday, Mupfumira reiterated the need to establish a Tourism Revolving Fund as a mechanism to create capital injection aimed at supporting and addressing challenges affecting the tourism and hospitality industry in Zimbabwe.
“We need to urgently facilitate the establishment of a Tourism Revolving Fund as a mechanism to create capital injection aimed at supporting the industry, as well as addressing challenges such as shortage of hotel room capacity and facilities,” said Mupfumira.
“There is also need to promote domestic tourism and encourage locals to participate in tourism and conservation initiatives. Tourism is the face of the country, there is need to put in place effective marketing strategies to attract tourists and rebrand destination Zimbabwe. Therefore, deployment of Tourism Attaches becomes urgent.”
Tourism players have blamed the slump on the sector on the continuous ruling of former President Robert Mugabe, which they said made a huge negative impact of the country’s tourism growth as potential tourists shunned visiting the country.
“We had advice from the world economic forum who wanted to assist us in making amends by shifting some policies, but, that never happened,” said Joseph Mukonowatsauka a key tourism player.
He added that there was need to revise the Indigenisation Policy.
“Honestly, it is a retrogressive policy in our efforts to lure international brands to invest in the country’s tourism sector,” he added.
However, Mupfumira said the peace and tranquillity ushered in with the attainment of the Second Republic coupled with the current efforts at re-engagement, present great opportunities for the tourism sector to grow in line with the national mantra “Zimbabwe is Open For Business.”
“I expect exceptional levels of achievements, which will reinforce the sector’s position as one of the key contributors to the prosperous middle income economy. Therefore I call for collective determination and serious commitment of every individual who is part of “Team Environment and Tourism” to individually contribute to the collective efforts,” she said.
Mupfumira spelt out key policy priorities for the Ministry for the year 2019 going forward.
“This strategic plan has high impact to the social and economic well-being of the nation. In this regard we need to stimulate economic growth and employment creation through tourism development and promotion,” she added.
“We need to focus on aggressive marketing and rebranding of Zimbabwe, as well as robust support for Domestic Tourism and Community Based Tourism,” Mupfumira explained.
Economic observers have said tourism, if managed well, has great potential to contribute immensely towards the Gross Domestic Product and employment creation in the country.