Japan’s blessing for community-based tourism

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JAPAN has expressed interest to assist Zimbabwe develop community-based tourism enterprises.
According to Tourism and Hospitality Industry Deputy Minister Anastancia Ndhlovu, the domestic tourism programme is set to get a boost from Japan.
The Deputy Minister is in Japan heading the country’s delegation to (Japan Association of Travel Agents (JATA) 2016.
JATA is Japan’s annual international Tourism Fair and this year has attracted more than 140 nations and all 15 Southern African Development Community (SADC) member-states.
“The Japanese tourism authorities, working in collaboration with Japan’s International Co-operation Agency (JICA), are also interested in expanding their support for our community-based tourism enterprises programme,” said Ndhlovu.
JICA, under the Tokyo International Conference on African Development (TICAD), identified tourism as a key sub-pillar for support as part of Japan’s overall thrust to promote and buttress Africa’s own development blueprint – Agenda 2063.
The plan to develop robust domestic tourism is expected to benefit rural folk.
Rural communities, that are host to many of the prime tourism products, have continued to wallow in poverty while tour operators rake in thousands of dollars from resources in the rural communities.
“They (Japan) fully appreciate the importance of the programme and the fact that communities, including rural communities, need to derive direct benefit from tourist activities and attractions which are located within their midst,” said Ndhlovu.
“JICA is already working with us in support of this programme and we are counting on them to continue and indeed expand that level of support – including assisting us to develop a practical manual for community-based tourism enterprises – which could then be availed throughout the SADC region.”
According to information on the Ministry’s website: “The ministry of tourism is in the process of coming up with a National Tourism Masterplan and a Domestic Tourism Strategy with financial assistance from African Development Bank.
“These documents are key pointers for the development of tourism in Zimbabwe. The development of a Tourism Masterplan and Domestic Tourism Strategy will be based on international best practices, benchmarking with other thriving tourism economies.
South Africa is one of the countries identified and a team was sent to carry out a benchmarking exercise
The ministry adopted a policy of decentralising its administrative structures to the country’s provinces and districts in an attempt to stimulate and boost domestic tourism through a bottom up approach.
The directorate focuses on broadening economic participation, community beneficiation and also deals with creating a better society where all are able to enjoy what the country offers in terms of tourism.”
Deputy Minister Ndhlovu also sought joint promotion of Zimbabwe and Japan tourism products.
Yasuto Kawarabayashi, the vice-commissioner of the Japan Tourism Agency said the Asian powerhouse was ready to, ‘share experiences, the training of tour guides and training of trainers in the tourism and hospitality sector as well as joint promotion of both tourism destinations and investment opportunities in the field of tourism in Zimbabwe’.
Kawarabayashi noted Japan’s target of attracting 40 million tourist arrivals in the country by the year 2020 – the year Tokyo will host the summer Olympics and Paralympic Games.
This, he said, required Japanese tourism authorities to put in place strategies to spread the flow of inbound tourists well beyond the main cities and current traditional tourist destinations in Japan.
“This will involve developing the tourism potential and appeal of Japan’s rural areas – along very similar lines to the community-based tourism enterprises concept explained by the Deputy Minister (Ndhlovu),” Kawarabayashi said.
“This is a concept we understand very well.”
The vice-commissioner said his ministry would liaise with JICA to develop more community-based tourism-related projects in Zimbabwe.

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