By Daniel Chigundu
THE Zimbabwe Council of Tourism (ZCT) has changed its name into the Tourism Business Council of Zimbabwe (TBCZ), a move expected to help the association focus on the next 30 years.
Before the decision to rebrand, ZCT had been formed to act as a voice for the players in the tourism sector in terms of lobbying and advocacy.
Addressing the media, TBCZ president Tich Hwingwiri said they have achieved so much in the past 30 years and are now focusing on the coming 30 years.
“At the weekend just gone by the Zimbabwe Council for Tourism celebrated its 30th anniversary, marking three active decades of service to the travel and tourism sector and to the nation as a whole.
“We took the opportunity of this event not only to celebrate this achievement but also to lay the foundation for our next 30 years with the change of name to the Tourism Business Council for Zimbabwe.
“The ZCT was created in 1988 to provide a voice for the operators in the travel and tourism sector, providing a means by which matters of relevance and importance involving the entire sector could be handled,” he said.
Hwingwiri added that matters specific to the needs and interests of the various sectorial associations operating under it would be handled by them. This helped improve and increase communication between the travel and tourism sector operators and various stakeholders, including government, the media, the wider business community and various people and organisations across the world.
“Since that time, the ZCT has undertaken a vast portfolio of work and has achieved enormous success in a great many areas. Key to that success has been the willingness of so many operators to give of their time to serve on sub-committees, the Board and executive committee.
“We have also been fortunate to have had the services of a number of people on the staff have competently followed up on all the action required from deliberations of the elected members,” Hwingwiri said.
ZTBC also revealed that it in the past 30 years it has also enjoyed a large measure of co-operation and support from many people and organisations, including direct members, sectorial associations, the Ministry of Tourism and Hospitality, the Zimbabwe Tourism Authority, National Parks and Wildlife Management, the Civil Aviation Authority of Zimbabwe, other ministries and government agencies.
Tourism players in the country have tried their best to keep the tourism sector standing following the battering that the country enjoyed a few years ago due to bad decisions by the previous regime.
Zimbabwe Tourism Authority (ZTA) is in the process of trying to get the country back to where it was before things turned upside down.
The authority has embarked on an extensive marketing campaign following on the footsteps of President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s mantra of “Zimbabwe is Open for business” and the re-engagement process.
To date, the country has managed to attract a lot of investment in the tourism sector that will see the construction of malls and a motor racing circuit around the Victoria Falls area.
According to Hwingwiri, “While we may not always have achieved what we set out to do, we have certainly represented the operators and made known their thoughts, ideas, suggestions and needs.
Speaking at the same occasion Tourism and Hospitality Industry Minister Prisca Mupfumira revealed that her ministry has enjoyed and valued the support they get from the association.
“ The Zimbabwe Council for Tourism has been an active and valuable leader, service provider and partner throughout these past three decades, working with a range of individuals and organisations in Zimbabwe, in the region and, indeed, all over the world to further the interests of Zimbabwe’s travel and tourism operators and to ensure that this sector enjoyed strength and success.
“I and all my predecessors have valued and enjoyed the relationship we have had with the leadership of ZCT, and the spirit of co-operation and mutual support that has been the hallmark of this relationship. In a relationship of any kind it is not possible for partners to always agree with each other, but what marks a mature and responsible relationship is the ability to foster understanding and to overcome disagreement with respect. That is what we have had and what I hope we shall always have,” she said.
Minister Mupfumira added that while the tourism sector has been through a challenging patch, she is however hopeful that better things are coming for the sector in the near future.
“As you all know, the past 18 years have been challenging for our sector, but tourism has survived and has enjoyed a genuine restoration of positive growth during the past year or so. As we look ahead we are hopeful for another long period of sustained and perhaps exponential growth, leading to travel and tourism taking its place as one of the most important – if not the most important – economic sectors within Zimbabwe.
“Developing countries across the world are looking to the development of tourism as a key economic pillar within economies, especially in those countries where this sector has played second fiddle to other sectors such as mining, manufacturing and agriculture.
“Indeed, a great many are spearheading initiatives that will result in travel and tourism being the pre-eminent economic activity in those countries. In this context, it is fair and reasonable to look towards travel and tourism is responsible for 50 percent of GDP in developing countries such as Zimbabwe. In terms of employment, national development, foreign currency earnings and international relations, this would be an exciting and phenomenal development that would underpin the economic transformation of Zimbabwe that we all so greatly desire and expect,” she said.
Meanwhile, ZCT also took the opportunity to pay tribute to its past chairmen and presidents among them David Chapman, who was key to the planning that led to the formation of ZCT and became its first chairman, later first chief executive.
The association also paid tribute to the other leaders and workers, people whose efforts have made a difference for the organisation.