‘Design packages that boost domestic tourism’
SENIOR STAFF WRITER
TOURISM minister Nqobizitha Mangaliso Ndhlovu has called on local players to design affordable and attractive packages to boost domestic tourism following the collapse of the sector owing to the coronavirus (Covid-19) pandemic.
This comes as Finance minister Mthuli Ncube recently indicated during the mid-term budget review that the industry would decline by 7,4 percent due to a significant drop in tourists.
Speaking during a meeting with editors in Harare, Ndhlovu said since Covid-19 struck, there has been little activity in the sector, which has not only affected business owners, but other players dependent on a thriving tourism environment.
“We have been travelling around the country assessing the situation on the ground and what can be done to recover when all this is over.
“Our National Tourism Revival and Growth Strategy, which my ministry has put together working closely with industry, addresses these issues and the key focus, from where we sit, the low-hanging fruit is domestic tourism.
“But it has its own challenges because it demands that our players re-look at their operational models to suit the domestic market, a very sensitive market from all sorts of angles including pricing and accessing tourist sites,” Ndhlovu said.
He said that Zimbabwe’s tourism sector was arguably among the worst-hit globally, as Covid-19 came at a time the country was on the path to attracting more tourists.
“Tourists can no longer travel, the hospitality industry shut its doors precisely because there were no guests anymore, those in the business of ensuring that people do travel such as travel agents, car hire firms and so on, shut down too because there was no business and because there was no business workers in the industry had to go home, unpaid because there was no money to pay them.
“It is a right royal mess when you look at that impact right down the chain … and I have not even touched on others who sell wares to tourists, those who entertain them such as musicians and dancers and anyone else who survives because tourism thrives,” Ndhlovu said.
“Just to put things in perspective, this time last year, that is in the first half of 2019, we recorded
1 115 million tourist arrivals into the country.
“It was already a three percent decline from the comparative period in 2018 because the sector had stagnated somewhat but through our (Zimbabwe Tourism Authority) ZTA, we were on a drive to grow the industry by expanding the source markets, particularly in Asia, the UK and the Americas,” he added.
Ndhlovu added that his ministry would soon launch a Tourism Revival and Growth Strategy which places major focus on tourism growth nodes and investment in tourism infrastructure, including the revival of tourism in places like Kariba and the Eastern Highlands.