From : Tourismupdate.co.za
17 January 2013
By : Dorine Reinstein
The Zimbabwe government has announced that it plans to invest heavily in the upgrade of the country’s road network in a bid to attract more tourism. The government reportedly allocated US$238 million for construction of roads – 11% of the total infrastructure budget.
Deputy Minister of Transport and Infrastructure, Morgan Komichi, was quoted in local newspaper The Zimbabwean as saying the upgrades would help attract foreign investment. “Prioritising the road project makes a lot of sense, since a good road network is part of both tourist and investor attraction.”
The tourism industry has welcomed the government’s intention to upgrade the country’s roads, as self-drive is a substantial part of Zimbabwe’s tourism. Sally Wynn, Director Wild Zambezi, says the road networks have suffered badly in recent years from lack of maintenance and upgrading, which has made driving hazardous for tourists and other ordinary road users. “An upgrade of our major road network would definitely be a boost for tourism, largely because it would make our roads safer.”
“The state of roads has led to a continuous decline of regional tourist arrivals especially in areas such as Kariba, Great Zimbabwe Matopos and Nyanga,” explains Emmanuel Fundira, President of Zimbabwe Council for Tourism. He adds that the long awaited dualisation on major trunk roads will reduce congestion and boost tourism. “Upgrading the roads will bring back the self-drive tourists and even stimulate domestic tourism,” he says.
Wynn warns, however, that although upgrading of the road system will go a long way to assisting tourism, Zimbabwe’s police force is also a problem that needs to be addressed.
“Harassment of tourists at police roadblocks is a major controversy here in Zimbabwe at the moment, amid allegations of widespread police corruption. There are recent moves to curb this and to arrest corrupt officers but there is still a tendency for motorists to be stopped and harassed at every turn for petty infringements (date-expiry on fire extinguishers etc), while major infringements of the motoring laws (like unroadworthy vehicles) go unpunished. This is off-putting for tourism.”