Wholistic approach to grow tourism sector

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TOURISM, Hospitality Industry and Environment as well as Home Affairs ministries have affirmed their commitment to working together to promote destination Zimbabwe and guarantee a peaceful and secure environment for tourism to thrive.
The affirmation comes at a time the tourism industry is aiming at increasing its contribution to the Gross Domestic Product and increasing its market share.
After embarking on the Land Reform Programme, which witnessed many landless blacks owning farms, the country suffered negative publicity which impacted the tourism industry.
Tourism arrivals declined following the programme but have began to pick up as a result of the aggressive rebranding by the tourism sector.
However, the ` highlighted tourists have complained about the treatment they receive from the Zimbabwe Republic Police and Immigration officials.
The police said they will be increasing tourism police units to ensure that tourists’ experience in the country will motivate them to return.
Minister of Tourism, Hospitality Industry and Environment Edgar Nyasha Mbwembwe said Government would be changing the way it has been doing business.
“We are indebted to the Home Affairs Ministry in the collective approach. Tourism cannot thrive without a wholistic approach. We want to give assurance that we will deal directly in addressing the issues affecting the industry because perception is reality,” said Minister Mbwembwe.
Minister of Home Affairs Obert Mpofu said there was need for Government to work hard in ensuring that the country returned to the status it enjoyed at independence.
“At independence, more than 30 airlines landed at the Harare International Airport and were processed faster than now, with only a few aircrafts. We have been shooting from different corners at one target. We should have done this a long time ago but the manner in which it was done was confusing the public, yet we should be working together,” Minister Mpofu said.
“Road users have been subjected to a lot of questioning and this doesn’t give us a good image as a country. There are long queues at the airports and not enough tables for the tourists to write on. We can do better than this. We need to behave differently with foreigners and this is what tourism is all about. We need to improve our systems because this is a modern world where there are new gadgets. We need to make travelling for locals and foreign tourists comfortable and we need to balance the rights for the over-arching need. Government needs to put a premium on security and minimise risk. Facilities should be affordable to our people.”
Zimbabwe Tourism Authority (ZTA) chief executive, Karikoga Kaseke, said the tourism industry was feverishly working to grow tourist arrivals and markets.
“The United Nations World Tourism Organisation says that tourism facilitation is interlinked with tourism development tool to foster increased demand and economic development. The tourism sector is therefore with a target of increasing tourist arrivals to seven million by 2025 from 2,2 million in 2016 and to increase the length of stay from five days and four nights to nine days and eight nights because the tourists who stay longer spend more money. We also have a target to grow the overseas market share from 14 percent in 2016 to 40 percent by 2025. We also want to increase the tourism receipts to 6 billion by 2025. This means the tourism employment will also increase from the current 180 000 recorded in 2016 to 350 000 direct employment by 2025 (sic),” said Kaseke.
Kaseke lamented the current visa regime compared to other countries in the region.
“We recommend that the country prioritise efficiency, completion of the computerisation process by the revenue collection authorities and a review of the country’s visa requirements as compared to regional competitors, among them Botswana, Namibia, South Africa and Mauritius.”
While other countries in the region charge minimum or flat fees for visas, Zimbabwe’s visa fees have been described as exorbitant.
Namibia has gotten the ball rolling on plans to scrap visa requirements for African passport holders after Cabinet authorised the implementation of this process to be carried out in line with diplomatic procedures.
Namibia will soon start issuing African passport holders with visas on arrival at ports of entry as a first step towards the eventual abolition of all Africans.

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