…slowly killing the cash cow

Lovemore Lubinda

Zimbabwe Minister of Tourism and Hospitality, Walter Mzembi says the country is failing to get maximum benefits from one of the most thriving sector, tourism, because of bad policing.

Speaking at the launch of the International Year of Sustainable Tourism for Development (IYSTD), at the Harare International Conference Centre, this afternoon, Mzembi said the heavy presence on Zimbabwean roads, high priced destination are some of the policies turning away tourists from the country.

He said harassment by the country’s national police, poor infrastructure, poor quality of service, harassment by the Zimbabwe Revenue Authority, and harassment by the immigration officials is undermining the country to woo tourists.

From the tourism survey of 2016, 95.6 percent of tourists who visited Zimbabwe promised come back. They have confidence in the country’s ability to receive visitors and to offer them the real value for their money in terms of good service.

“On the negative side, less than 5 percent have vowed never to return,” said Mzembi.

The tourism minister who recently lost the bid to head the Director General of United Nation World Tourism Organisation, said tourism is based on mutual trust, and that while the number of the disgruntled visitors seems small on the paper, if the country is not serious in correcting the problem, it has the potential to cause the loss of the 95 percent who have promised to come back.

The United Nations General Assembly has designated 2017 the International Year for Sustainable Tourism for Development.

Tourism tops high in revenue generation for the country. In many developing countries including Zimbabwe, tourism ranks as the first export sector.

Despite negative perceptions due to real and perceived terrorist activities, Morocco, Egypt, and Tunisia are among the top tourist destinations with 10 million, 9.6 million, and 6 million visitors respectively. South Africa is the third destination in Africa with 9.55 million visitors, compared to Zimbabwe’s 1.88 million visitors.