HARARE – The Zimbabwe Tourism Authority (ZTA) says it is targeting $3 billion tourism receipts in the next five years.
Karikoga Kaseke, ZTA chief executive told businessdaily in an exclusive interview last week that the tourism authority has put in place strategies to revamp the country’s tourism industry.
“Depending on the outcome of the elections which we all now know will be held on July 31, 2013, we expect this year’s tourism figures to remain where they were last year at around $779 million. This is because in every election year, whether they are free and fair or violence free, tourism receipts always go down but we are expecting to stabilise at last year’s figure,” he said.
Zimbabwe’s tourism industry took a knock in the early 2000s due to negative sentiment stemming from alleged human rights abuses by the state and politically-motivated violence in recent years.
However, the establishment of an inclusive government and the introduction of a multi-currency system in 2009 to halt economic decline saw the tourism sector registering a growth for the first time in 10 years.
Kaseke noted that in a post-election Zimbabwe, tourism has the potential to be one of the fastest growing sectors in the economy, benefiting from the continued recovery in both global and domestic economic activity, and also on the back of targeted marketing strategies.
“In 2014 — assuming that elections will give us a clear winner and a clear government and not another inclusive government — we expect tourism sector to grow by at least 15 percent but our receipts should increase to close to $1 billion,” he said adding that he expects tourism receipts to top $1,5 billion in 2015.
“In five years’ time Zimbabwe will be in a position to receive $3 billion tourism receipts,” said Kaseke.
Zimbabwe is set to hold fresh elections later this year to end the uneasy coalition between President Robert Mugabe and Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai which was formed after violent but inconclusive elections in 2008.
Market observers also say the successful co-hosting of the United Nations World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO) General Assembly with Zambia in August can be a good platform to market destination Zimbabwe.
Kaseke, however, highlighted that these figures wilt be achieved until government puts money into marketing efforts.
“For instance we need about $20 million per annum for our marketing purposes and without funding all these ideas will just be dreams. South African tourism authority gets more than $170 million each year and their tourism sector delivers,” he said.
“The challenges we have been facing over the past few years is that we have not been receiving enough money from government for our activities.
“We have strategies that can bring in more tourists into Zimbabwe but the execution of those strategies require funding. Without funding in tourism you cannot do anything in marketing,” he said.
Early this year the UNWTO projected that international tourist arrivals in Zimbabwe will grow by four percent in the long-term on the back of renewed interest from the country’s major source markets.
In the first quarter, the country recorded a 17 percent increase in tourist arrivals with all major markets registering increases.
Tourists arrivals in the first quarter stood at 404 282 up from 346 299 in 2012, reflecting that the country was witnessing improved destination image.