MINISTERSPrisca Mupfumira (Environment, Tourism and Hospitality Industry) and Mangaliso Ndlovu (Industry and Commerce) are currently meeting with the country’s tourism sector in a bid to solve a pricing challenge that is threating to derail tourism marketing efforts.
The Zimbabwe Tourism Authority (ZTA) and the Ministry have been marketing the country’s tourism products across the world, a development which has seen their efforts being rewarded through various international recognition awards.
The country is ranked among the world’s top three must visit destinations in 2019 according to Lonely Planet but the extortionist prices that were being charged by hotels in Bulawayo last week if allowed to stand can derail that good standing.
Besides affecting the country’s good name and standing internationally, the high prices can also affect the hosting of the Zimbabwe International Trade Fair (ZITF) which is arguably a top business expo in the country and draws exhibitors from as far as Russia, South Africa, Zambia, Malawi, China, India and Indonesia among many others to explore opportunities.
Writing on their Twitter account, Environment, Tourism and Hospitality Industry Ministry confirmed the meeting adding that the intention is not to control prices but to find solutions to the challenges.
“Today, the Honourable Minister Prisca Mupfumira together with Industry Minister Hon. Mangaliso Ndlovu is meeting the tourism and hospitality industry over pricing of the tourism.
“We are trying to find solutions together with the hospitality industry,” they said.
However one of their followers on Twitter Norman Nyamandi warned the Ministry against controlling prices, adding that they should instead discuss about access to capital.
“Hotel and tourism products are not basic products and most of the times are luxurious products which are capital intensive. Ministry and Industry should be discussing how to access capital and investors so as to increase supply. Pricing should be left to the operators and associations,” he said.
Another Twitter Zandato argued that Zimbabwe has become a less competitive destination owing to pricing against other regional players and that if not addressed the country will lose out.
“I doubt they are threatening price controls it’s just Zimbabwe as a destination could become less competitive due to crazy pricing. It is now tagged an expensive destination in the regions causing country to lose put on tourism income,” said Zandato.
According to Mawire Jnr, “price controls will lead to poor service, there is need to benchmark our pricing regime with regional players but also taking into account economic factors, there is so much the government can do to help the industry so that they reduce costs and can then pass these to tourists,” he said.
Tourism prices in Zimbabwe have generally been regarded as being on the high side a development which has seen the majority of locals failing to enjoy the products.
The other bottleneck is that some of the tourism players are now charging their prices in foreign currency or equivalent in RTGs dollars using the obtaining black market rates.
This unfortunate development comes at a time when government is working all efforts out to try and increase arrivals in the country since the tourism sector has been identified as one of the key pillars of economic revival together with mining and agriculture.
Tourism is actually said to be one of the lowest hanging fruits that the new dispensation can take advantage of to get quick wins. In 2018, the sector is said to have contributed billions to the country’s gross domestic product in terms of direct receipts and downstream business revenue.