Zimbabwe eyes $7bn tourism export warnings
Other pillars of growth in the strategic plan according to the National Tourism Sector Strategy (NTSS), an action plan for the tourism and hospitality industry include environmental sustainability, destination management, information communication technology, and human capital development.
The NTSS was developed as a response to President Mnangagwa’s order to ministers in December 2017 to come up with a 100-day action plan to grow their sectors.
The strategy projects arrivals of seven million up from 2.42million arrivals recorded in 2017. The strategy runs from 2018 to 2030 and acts as a guideline for resuscitating the tourism and travel industry.
The policy also seeks to increase the tourism sector’s contribution to the gross domestic product (GDP) to $8.1billion from the current $2.5billion. This is already up from an initial plan to grow the industry to a $5billion GDP contributor.
“While the tourism sector has experienced growth over the years, growing from a $200 million sector in 2009 to $967 million in 2017, there is consensus that the negative perceptions that followed Zimbabwe’s economic challenges since the year 2000 have been an albatross that has not enabled Zimbabwe to experience exponential growth in the tourism sector,” the document said.
According to Zimbabwe Tourism and Hospitality Minister, Prisca Mupfumira, the development of the NTSS had come at an opportune time for the country due to the global tourism trends.
She said, “It will position our sector for growth and development by formulating initiatives that will enable employment creation, infrastructure development and exports generation.”
“It is critical to position the sector to play its part in achieving a middle-income economy by 2030 as pronounced by President Emmerson Mnangagwa last month,” she added.
Mupfumira noted that in 2017, arrivals into Zimbabwe rose by 12 percent to 2.42 million from 2.17 million in 2016.
Analysts say the anticipated growth in arrivals is no easy task considering the country is an add-on destination because it is largely unattractive. For example, 30.4 percent of the visitors on holiday/leisure on packages do not spend a night in Zimbabwe while 58.9 percent of those who stay spend just two to three nights in the country.
According to analysts, despite the average growth rate of six percent of overseas tourists over the past few years, it has done nothing to significantly improve tourist arrivals in the country. This is buttressed by the fact that international tourists into Zimbabwe spend more at $1.250 than their regional counterparts at $310.
Tourism and Hospitality Industry Permanent Secretary, Thokozile Chitepo said the development of the NTSS was a culmination of extensive collaboration between the government and the tourism private sector through the Zimbabwe Council for Tourism.