By Daniel Chigundu
ZIMBABWE government says it is in the process of establishing a National Tourism Facilitation Committee that will be expected to work on easing movement of tourists at the country’s borders.
According to the Zimbabwe Exit Survey, the majority of visitors to Zimbabwe mainly use road transport and there have been outcries over the time it takes for their papers to be processed at the various borders.
Speaking in Bulawayo at the on-going 11th edition of Sanganai/Hlanganani World Travel Expo, Vice President Constantino Chiwenga said the government is aware of the delays and is in the process of ensuring that there is seamless visitor facilitation at borders.
“Government is aware of delays that tourists have had to endure at some of our ports of entry, while we acknowledge the efforts being made to address these problems I urge the relevant authorities to come up with lasting solutions.
“Zimbabwe appreciates the importance of tourism and is committed to seamless visitor facilitation which has now become a major competitive issue and we can make our destination competitive or uncompetitive depending on the efficiency and effectiveness of our facilitation at ports of entry and exit.
“Pursuant to this aforementioned, the government will soon establish the national tourism facilitation committee with the main role of easing movement of tourists at our ports of entry and within the country.
“Coupled with this, port infrastructure upgrading and development especially at Beitbridge Border Post and Kazungula Border Post will also be given priority attention for the upgrading,” he said.
Vice President Chiwenga added that modernisation and expansion of these border posts will go a long in assisting the country to regain lost market share especially of the self-drive traffic from South Africa.
South Africa is arguably Zimbabwe’s biggest source market for arrivals and the Vice President called on the tourism sector to do more to increase the statistics.
“Noting that South Africa is our biggest source market I challenge tourism and hospitality industry to increase arrivals from South Africa from about 700016 in 2017 to surpass the over 1.6 million exhibitors that were registered in 2016 by the year 2023,” said Chiwenga.
Tourism plays a significant role in the economy and is projected to contribute more than 15 percent to the gross domestic product (GDP) in the near future.
According to economists, tourism is one of the country’s lowest hanging fruits with quick returns in terms of the economic revival and development.