FINANCE and Economic Development minister Patrick Chinamasa has said leakages and lack of transparency in accounting for the foreign currency earnings from the tourism sector undermined the sectors’ contribution to the country’s recovery efforts.
BY WINSTONE ANTONIO IN BULAWAYO
Chinamasa made the remarks on Friday as he officially opened the 10th edition of Sanganai/Hlanganani World Tourism Expo that ended in Bulawayo yesterday.
“Tourism is an important sector in terms of its contribution to the key economic aggregates, including national output, employment creation and generation of foreign currency, hence the need for strategies to improve its performance,” he said.
“Promoting responsible tourism will help stimulate demand for locally-produced products, while at the same time empowering local communities as the industry has the potential to generate the much-needed foreign currency.”
Chinamasa said appropriate packaging of Zimbabwe as a tourist destination would go a long way in promoting the recovery of the economy.
He said tourism marketing activities had remained underfunded due to budget constraints.
“Tourism is a low-hanging fruit that has the potential to generate quick wins for the country. However, investment in destination marketing is required in order to unlock the huge potential in the country’s tourism sector,” he said.
He said Zimbabwe arrivals rose to 2,2 million in 2016 from 2,1 million in 2015 largely due to an increase in the country’s traditional markets such as United Kingdom, United States of America and some African source markets.
“There is need for collaborative efforts in the marketing of Zimbabwe as an attractive tourist destination. Government seeks to promote a private sector-led growth strategy where the private sector assumes its proper role in the economy as its role is to create an environment conducive for sustainable private sector business operations.”
Chinamasa said the government was implementing a number of supportive policies to transform tourism that include investing in supporting infrastructure, the extension of fiscal incentives to the tourism industry, enacting of the Special Economic Zones legislation and budgetary support for destination marketing and promotion.
He said there was need to promote domestic tourism so that more Zimbabweans could enjoy the tourism facilities throughout the country as most of the facilities are beyond the reach of local people.
Meanwhile, Tourism and Hospitality Industry minister Walter Mzembi said tourism had become a conspicuous pillar of the nation’s economy and a transformative force for improving millions of lives.
Mzembi made the remarks in a speech read on his behalf by Tourism and Hospitality Industry secretary Thokozile Chitepo at the commemorations of the World Tourism Day at Large City Hall in Bulawayo.
He said the world over, in countries where tourism thrived, it was domestic tourism that sustained hotel occupancy and expenditure power.
“Countries like China, Russia, India and the US render themselves as living examples and closer home South Africa begs special mention.”