By Daniel Chigundu
ZIMBABWE Tourism Authority (ZTA) chief executive Dr Karikoga Kaseke has said the tourism boom has come earlier than expected and has caught the industry flat-footed in terms of preparation.
Hotels and various other tourism facilities are in need of renovations to meet acceptable standards following years of deterioration that was exacerbated by the mishandling of the economy by the previous government.
So dire was the mishandling that the facilities were not making enough business to warranty investment in their various infrastructures as there was no guarantee of a return on investment.
Vice President Constantino Chiwenga alluded to the need for renovations of tourism facilities when he toured exhibition stands at the 11th edition of Sanganai/Hlanganani World Travel Expo in Bulawayo.
However, with the coming the coming in of the new dispensation in November last year, the country has already begun to record growth in arrivals and inquiries for multi-million tourism investments.
In an interview on the sidelines of a tour of the Joshua Nkomo Matsheumhlope Museum, Dr Kaseke said he was happy that Vice President Chiwenga shares his sentiments on the state of tourism facilities in the country.
“We are happy that the VP agrees, it’s a cry that has been coming from us it’s a cry that has been coming from industry for a long time and now the VP has said he wants to see these facilities being renovated. Yes over time Zimbabwe has been in a very difficult situation to the extent that it eroded the facilities to a very bad state and we are now having tourism coming back, its booming now.
“We are not ready for the boom and we must make ourselves ready for the boom because it came all of a sudden and although we were planning that one day, one year we will have this boom, but the boom has come sooner than later so we are now in a hurry to ensure we modernise the facilities and improve facilities,” he said
Dr Kaseke added that it’s not only facilities that are in need of an upgrade but that even people who are employed in the facilities so that they are able to handle the boom effectively.
He was there is a need for a serious training program adding that some people currently manning the facilities have not been doing very well in line with expectations.
“So weed to have a serious training program so that we are up to stretch because we might shoot ourselves in the foot when we bring tourists and they are not happy and then they might not return, the best customer is the customer we already have who gives you repeat business.
“Basically repeat business comes from a situation where a customer or tourist is happy or satisfied by the product, so this is product retooling which the Vice President was talking about yesterday and we are very happy that he has endorsed what we have been saying over the years,” he said.-