GOVERNMENT has proposed to allocate about US$4.8 million to tourism for marketing and branding of destination Zimbabwe and expects to increase receipts from US$1 billion in 2017 to US$3.5 billion by 2023.
Marketing and branding of destinations play a key role in attracting tourists to particular destinations, countries like South Africa pour in close to a billion for destination marketing a development which has seen it attracting huge numbers of tourists.
Tourism marketing and branding process include such things as participating at various world tourism fairs, keeping a presence in lucrative source markets and dealing with the country perception among many others.
Zimbabwe has previously failed to adequately market its destinations owing to unavailability of funds a development which resulted in dwindling of arrival figures.
As if that was not enough it at one time almost cancelled the prestigious Sanganai/Hlanganani World Travel Expo due to lack of resources.
According to its budget proposal in 2018, the Zimbabwe Tourism Authority (ZTA) which is charged with the marketing responsibilities had wanted about US$17 million to effectively carry out its mandate.
From the US$17 million, about US$11 million was supposed to come from treasury while the remaining US$6 million was supposed to come from the Tourism Fund; however, their request was thrown out despite then Finance Minister Patrick Chinamasa promising to adequately finance them.
Now in 2019, Finance Minister Mthuli Ncube though he has acknowledged the importance of the tourism sector to the country’s economic revival, he has just allocated a measly US$4.8 million for marketing and branding purposes.
Zimbabwe’s image is bartered across the world owing to bad policies by the previous regime and requires massive perception redress and branding if the targeted US$3.5 billion receipts are going to be realised.
In his 2019 budget presentation Minister Ncube said Tourism is high on the development agenda of the Transitional Stabilisation Programme (TSP) with the major thrust on increasing tourist arrivals and generation of the much needed foreign currency and employment creation.
“Under the recently developed National Tourism Recovery and Growth Strategy – Vision 2025, Government seeks to regain lost market share in the traditional markets of Europe, America, Australia and Japan, penetrate new markets in Eastern Europe, China & India in Asia as well as growing the domestic market so as to enhance the contribution of tourism to the national economy.
“The target is to increase tourist arrivals from the anticipated 2.7 million in 2018 to over 5.5 million by 2023 as well as growing tourism receipts from US$1 billion in 2017 to US$3.5 billion by 2023.
The Minister added that “in the same vein the marketing efforts also target to increase average length of stay from 5 days 4 nights in 2015 to 9 days 8 nights by 2023, increase the share of overseas market from 20% in 2017 to 40% by 2023 and subsequently increase the contribution of tourism to employment creation from the current 200 000 (direct, indirect and induced employment) in 2016 to about 500 000 by 2023.
“This will be achieved through our support for aggressive marketing and rebranding of destination Zimbabwe and the 2019 Budget is allocating US$4.8 million for this,” he said.
Meanwhile, Minister Ncube has called on the tourism sector to also take advantage of the online world to enhance the country’s image and popularise tourist destinations through digital marketing.
“Given the intensive digital marketing initiatives by other competing destinations in the region, there is a dire need for Zimbabwe to intensify the implementation of the digital marketing strategy that will enhance destination online presence and visibility.
“It is critical that the tourism sector in Zimbabwe becomes more aware of the opportunities that the online world creates. We will invest more in championing digital marketing to manage and market the destination,” he said