Published on : Monday, February 17, 2014
This emerged during a consultative meeting between tourism minister Walter Mzembi and stakeholders in the sector. However, several stakeholders at the meeting said many issues need to be fixed for the target to be achieved, such as improving Zimbabwe’s air links, building a positive image for the country as well as implementation of policies that promote the growth of tourism.
The stakeholders said Zimbabwe needs to overhaul its visa regime so that it makes it easier for people from countries in category C to travel to the southern African country.
Currently, people from countries in category C need to obtain visas in their countries before they can travel to Zimbabwe.
Several countries contributing big numbers to global tourist arrivals now, including China and India, are classified under category C in Zimbabwe.
The minister concurred that the visa regime needs to be overhauled for the country to attract many tourists from the major tourist source markets in the world.
Improving domestic tourism through provision of affordable tourism products, increase in domestic airlines as well as scrapping or lowering of government taxes on tourism are other pertinent issues that need to be addressed, the stakeholders said.
“The 5 billion U.S. dollars is achievable but we need to fix what is not working. At the moment, there are many things that are not working for tourism to thrive,” said Shingi Munyeza, group chief executive of African Sun, one of the country’s biggest hotel groups.
Zimbabwe needs to also reduce its aviation fees as they are currently too expensive, said an official from Comair, a joint venture between South African Airways and the British Airways.
Comair operates flights between Johannesburg in South Africa and Zimbabwe’s prime tourist resort, Victoria Falls.
Tourism currently contributes 10 percent to Zimbabwe’s gross domestic product.
Though tourist arrivals had been seriously affected by negative country publicity over the decade to 2008, international arrivals have started picking up again following the improvement in country image.
In 2012, tourist arrivals reached 2.2 million and generated 770 million U.S. dollars for the country.