By Daniel Chigundu
ACTING President Kembo Mohadi has said the government is committed to supporting the tourism sector to reach its full potential as it is one of the four pillars of the country’s economy.
Tourism is arguably Zimbabwe’s low hanging fruit with quick wins in terms of economic recovery efforts that were employed since the coming in of the new dispensations on November 24, 2017.
However, the sector is still facing a lot of challenges which have weighed it down from reaching its full potential.
Addressing delegates at the official opening of the Tourism Business Council of Zimbabwe (TBCZ) 2018 Tourism Convention in Victoria Falls, Acting President Mohadi said tourism is the engine for economic development.
“My government is committed to supporting the tourism sector in every way it can and work in collaboration with all stakeholders to unlock its full potential.
“We regard tourism as an engine for economic development. Tourism is one of the four pillars of our economy among agriculture, mining and the manufacturing sector.
“It is pleasing to note that the tourism industry continues to recover as demonstrated by a total of 2,422,930 tourist arrivals in 2017, which represents a 12 percent increase from the 2,167,686 tourist arrivals in 2016. Here in Victoria Falls alone, occupancy for January to February 2018 also indicated a 22 percent and 24 percent increase respectively,” he said.
The Acting President added that he is convinced that if the country takes full advantage of the digital opportunities and use them in marketing the tourist destinations the current figures of arrivals can be surpassed.
Zimbabwe has employed various tourism marketing strategies aimed at attracting both foreign and local tourists and some of the strategies have begun bearing fruits especially in Victoria Fall which was also designated a special economic zone for tourism by the government.
Meanwhile, the Acting President has applauded the tourism sector for the new facilities and refurbishments that have been done in Victoria Falls that I also pleased to note that revenue in Victoria Falls adding that the sector should be a link to the creation of the value chain industries.
“I am also pleased to note that revenue in Victoria Falls is up by 20 percent while 18 new properties have been developed to date and among them are the Zambezi Island Lodge, River Brewery, Old Drift Lodge, Great Plains Lodge, Nguni Boutique Lodge, and Mbano Manor Lodge.
“Ilala Lodge has added 18 additional rooms and other properties such as the Victoria Falls Safari Club have been newly refurbished.
“The positive effects of tourism in this country’s economy should include the growth and development of various industries directly linked to a healthy tourism industry, such as transportation, construction, wildlife, creative and cultural industries. The communities and the peoples who are at the tourist attractions should also be transformed,” he said.