HARARE – Zimbabwe is targeting to have at least 2,5 million tourists visiting the country this year, Tourism minister Priscah Mupfumira has said.
The minister told stakeholders yesterday that tourism is a key economic sector that has the potential to contribute towards economic growth.
“In Zimbabwe the tourism sector is an acknowledged economic pillar that has registered significant growth from being a mere $200 million in 2009 to an estimated billion dollar industry that it is today.
“Equally, the volume of tourism traffic into Zimbabwe has improved from 1,7 million in 2012 to 2,1 million in 2016, and by the end of 2018 we are positive that we will receive 2,5 million tourist arrivals,” she said.
Mupfumira commended the central bank for unveiling a Tourism Support Facility aimed at growing the sector.
She said the funding will complement government’s policy on to offer duty exemption rebates to importers of safari vehicles and capital goods for use in the tourism sector announced by government through treasury in the national budget.
“As government we will ensure that no unregistered operator benefits from this facility. It should benefit only those operators duly registered by the Zimbabwe Tourism Authority. This gesture by government to avail such a facility provides industry with the necessary facilitation to grow the tourism cake and ensure we generate more employment for our populace,” she said.
Mupfumira further indicated that government is seeking to achieve the empowerment of our people through tourism in order to ensure it becomes a real tool for poverty eradication.
“In doing so, government through my ministry will ensure that this facility is extended to smaller players in the tourism sector including those intending to enter into mainstream tourism business. The tourism support facility should capacitate the disadvantaged women and youth to participate in the tourism sector in line with overall government policy to empower our people,” she said.
While tourism plays a major role in the economic well-being of Zimbabwe, there is often no co-ordination of policies across sectors to enable tourism growth.
Chief among the challenges affecting tourism growth are limited international air access, inadequate internal airline connectivity, poor state of roads in tourism resorts and a non-competitive tourism product that is not only overpriced but old and tired.
Mupfumira said Special Economic Zones are a vital cog in turning around the fortunes of the economy and her ministry will be identifying these across the country.
“During the 100 days my ministry will work closely with all stakeholders to accelerate the establishment of the Victoria Falls Special Economic Zone in order to attract investment and generate increased exports and the much needed foreign currency,” she said.