By Business Writer
Thursday, 29 December 2011
HARARE – Zimbabwe has announced formation of the country’s National Tourism and Heritage Advisory Council at a time the tourism sector continues on a growth trajectory.
Tourism is projected to grow by 13,7 percent in 2012, up from 10,3 percent in 2011 and the trend is expected to continue on the back of policy and operational improvements.
The newly formed broad-based council is representative of all key national constituencies, including industry players, academics, women, youths, religious leaders, traditional chiefs as well as the disabled and will advise the incumbent Tourism minister, Walter Mzembi, on the ideological direction of the increasingly important development and growth of the sector.
“Members will also be accorded the scope to input into the conceptualisation and implementation of tourism product development, particularly enshrinement, monument-building, and icon-construction in their own localities throughout the provinces,” Tourism secretary Sylvester Maunganidze said in a statement.
The body, which will have defining and analytical functions will retreat regularly and advise the minister on the development of the sector.
“The ministry has basically broadened and deepened what should be our perception of Zimbabwe national tourism from the narrow and shallow view inherited from colonial times. This is where tourism is narrowly perceived as a preoccupation that is exclusively for whites and foreigners, where the generality of our people can only participate as servants or amusers,” Maunganidze added.
“The indigenous people can participate as tourists as well as hosts and entrepreneurs.”
Zimbabwe’s tourism milestone however, comes amid fears that the country will not be able to meet accommodation demands ahead of the 2013 United Nations World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO) general assembly to be co-hosted with Zambia.
A joint technical committee comprising both Zimbabwean and Zambian delegates recently announced that there was not enough accommodation to cater for the upcoming event.
Zimbabwe and Zambia won the bid to co-host the UNWTO event in Victoria Falls after four other contenders withdrew their bids at the last minute. The joint committee met in Harare last week to agree on resolutions in preparation for the event that is expected to boost tourist arrivals in both countries.
Zimbabwe and Zambia have strong tourism ties, sharing one of the Seven Wonders of the World — the Victoria Falls.
Zimbabwe rebranded its tourism facilities and infrastructure under the theme “Zimbabwe: A World of Wonders.”
Finance minister Tendai Biti announced in his 2012 budget that some success towards re-branding was self-evident in the reduction of internal disharmony over the last 3 years.
He said successful development of Zimbabwe’s tourism requires government to address some of the major challenges in this sector, chief among them being the absence of ICT penetration, weak state of tourism infrastructure and the deteriorating state of Air Zimbabwe.
The Finance minister also proposed development and implementation of a National Tourism Master Plan; review the Tourism Act to streamline the roles of the different players as well as rehabilitation and development of tourism infrastructure.