ENVIRONMENT,Tourism and Hospitality Industry Minister Prisca Mupfumira has called for the establishment of animal sanctuaries across the country as a way of promoting domestic tourism.
Although Zimbabwe is endowed with a lot of natural resources including pristine wildlife which has seen it receiving international awards, local people have not been able to enjoy them.
The major bottleneck has largely been exorbitant user fees at a time when levels of disposable income have dwindled sharply thereby turning tourism to become a preserve of foreigners or the rich.
Efforts by the Zimbabwe Tourism Authority (ZTA) to sweet-talk tourism players to come up with favourable rates for locals have also failed to yield desired results.
Although Zimbabwe is applauded for having some of the best lions in the world it is also a fact that the majority of its 14 million people have only seen a lion on television or in newspapers and magazines.
Minister Mupfumira told Parliament that this state of affairs must come to end through the establishment of the animal sanctuaries.
“We are said to be number with our animals and yet it’s not every one of us who can go to Hwange National Park and we are saying at local level lets have in every province an animal sanctuary free and not restricted and we have already introduced two lions at Chinhoyi Caves and already the number of local people coming to see the lions has trebled.
“We are trying to encourage domestic tourism and we have set up a dedicated director desk for domestic tourism so that we are not just talking about Victoria Falls we want people in Pungwe to see what is there, there is a lot which can be seen by our own people because we tend to think tourism is about foreign arrivals.
“If you got to China or people with a lot of tourism you will find 70 percent are local and we need to ensure we bring some attraction so that our children can go and see whatever we have for example we don’t live in rural areas anymore but we need to have a proper Korekore Village, proper Manyika Village where children can go and learn and it’s a tourists attraction to them so those are some of the things are we are doing,” she said.
Meanwhile, the Minister also revealed that they have since resuscitated CAMPFIRE so that people who are living with animals must also benefit and not just game parks.