Senator for Mashonaland Central Alice Chimbudzi has urged the government to speedily attend to the country’s roads, adding that the current state makes it difficult to retain drive-in tourists.
Most tourists to Zimbabwe arrive by road, however with the roads in a poor state, the country is unlikely to be attractive to tourists.
With Zimbabwe depending on tourism to earn the much-needed foreign currency, Senator Chimbudzi is of the view that poor roads could dent tourism efforts.
Speaking in the Senate recently, Honourable Chimbudzi said the country has the potential to improve its economy through tourism but roads are the missing link.
“Madam President, Zimbabwe has the potential to improve its economic performance through the contribution of tourism and Hospitality to the national fiscus. Between 2016 and 2017 tourism contributed 8% to the GDP.
“In 2016/17, 87% of visitors arrivals into the country was by road; visitor arrivals by air in contrast only contributed 13% of arrivals into Zimbabwe. A total of 1 318 908 visitor came to Zimbabwe on holiday in 2018.
“If roads are not well-maintained, retaining these tourists will be difficult, as the majority of drive-in tourists have indicated that the poor state of roads such as the Bulawayo-Victoria Falls highways make travelling very difficult.
“Madam President, failure to develop transport infrastructure could cost Zimbabwe millions of dollars in potential revenue due to the emergence of alternative routes bypassing the country,” she said.
Senator Chimbudzi added that Zimbabwe has many examples to follow that have benefited from a good transport system and road network.
“The growth of tourism in Mauritius in the 80s and 90s was aided by the internal development of transport infrastructure in the country. Meanwhile, the growth of Sun City resort in South Africa received great impetus from the provision of adequate transport infrastructure by the South African government.
“This testifies to the need to make deliberate development of road infrastructure to aid growth of tourism in Zimbabwe. Tourism has potential to surpass agriculture as a GDP contributor.
“One of the key competitive factors in tourism has been found to be accessibility of the destination through both road and air transport systems (WEF 2016). Therefore, in order for a destination to thrive it is important to ensure that both external and internal transport system are adequately developed.
“While Zimbabwe boasts as one of the most extensive road networks in the region, its condition has deteriorated rapidly. The roads are in poor condition, riddled with potholes and shrubs on roadsides, hindering competitiveness in regional tourism,” she said.