By Daniel Chigundu
YOUTHS who will converge for the 2nd edition of the Africa Youth in Tourism Conference in Bulawayo say they will use the meeting to seek partnerships and investments.
The conference is scheduled for the 19th to the 23rd of September at the Zimbabwe International Trade Fair (ZITF).
In an interview, Zimbabwe Youth in Tourism (ZYIT) director General Stewart Mutizwa said youths are facing many challenges and are hopeful the conference will go a long way in addressing most of them.
“Our focus is to look for investment, forge partnerships for the youths and even merging with the main players so that we can collaborate in the industry in terms of business.
“We are also going to have cultural exchange activities and sharing of ideas about what the other youths are doing in their countries and how we can improve as Zimbabwe Youth in Tourism so that we can be the main players in the industry,” he said.
Mutizwa added that some youths are involved in travel agency business, tour operating, restaurants; some are running their lodges while others are doing several projects in the tourism sector.
According to ZYIT youths are facing a lot of challenges when it comes to setting up their tourism ventures as they are not able to meet some of the requirements demanded them to obtain operating licences.
“Right now the issue of licencing is the major challenge, if you want to register in the tourism sector they require a lot of things for you to be granted the operating licence, the second thing is the issue of funding they require collateral security while most youths don’t have those collaterals,” Mutizwa said.
Most African countries are expected to send their representatives to the conference which will also be graced by several officials from government and related tourism related ministries.
“All ministries that have anything to do with tourism for example Ministry of Tourism, Ministry of Youth, Ministry of Information and Ministry of ICT have all confirmed their attendance to the conference,” he said.
Tourism is one of the lowest hanging fruit for the country and is poised for growth following the coming in of the new dispensation which has made it clear that the country is open for business.
The government has gone further to declare Victoria Falls as a Special Economic Zone for the tourism sector.
Zimbabwe Tourism Authority chief executive Dr Kaseke has called on the players in the tourism industry to consider renovating their facilities in anticipation of the tourism boom.-