SA tourism links boost case for rand use in Zim­babwe

CityPress - - Business - MEM­ORY MATARANYIKA busi­ness@city­press.co.za

Apart from strong trade ties, there are grow­ing tourism links be­tween Zim­babwe and South Africa, and this is prompt­ing calls for in­cen­tives and the pro­mo­tion of the use of the rand in Zim­babwe.

South Africa’s north­ern neigh­bour of­fi­cially uses mul­ti­ple cur­ren­cies, al­though up­take of the rand has been low ow­ing to value fluc­tu­a­tions in the past few years. How­ever, a crip­pling short­age of the US dol­lar and low im­pact of bond notes are prompt­ing au­thor­i­ties to ex­plore other op­tions – and the rand is in­creas­ingly be­ing seen as an op­tion.

South Africa is also a ma­jor source mar­ket for tourist ar­rivals into Zim­babwe and most in­ter­na­tional tourists come into Zim­babwe through South Africa, the Zim­babwe Sta­tis­tics Agency (Zim­stats) con­firmed this week.

Re­serve Bank of Zim­babwe gov­er­nor John Man­gudya says rand re­ceipts from the tourism sec­tor have been added on to the list of in­dus­tries re­ceiv­ing a 5% in­cen­tive on ex­port re­ceipts.

“In the African re­gion, South Africa was the lead­ing source mar­ket for vis­i­tors to Zim­babwe – with 38.1%, fol­lowed by Zam­bia and Malawi – both ac­count­ing for around 18%,” said Zim­stats in its Zim­babwe Vis­i­tor Exit Sur­vey Re­port 2015/16, re­leased this week.

In the first quar­ter of 2016, tourist ar­rivals into Zim­babwe from main­land Africa, which ac­counts for around 80% of the to­tal num­ber of vis­i­tors to Zim­babwe, in­creased by 11% to 380 790.

Stats SA re­cently said Zim­babwe was a ma­jor source mar­ket of African tourist ar­rivals into the con­ti­nent’s most in­dus­tri­alised econ­omy.

It said 2 mil­lion in ar­rivals, ac­count­ing for the high­est num­ber of tourist ar­rivals in South Africa from the con­ti­nent, were from Zim­babwe, fol­lowed by Le­sotho with 1.7 mil­lion and BIL­LION DOL­LAR Mozam­bique at 1.2 mil­lion.

Zim­babwe’s tourism min­is­ter, Wal­ter Mzembi, said mea­sures to in­cen­tivise rand use in Zim­babwe should be in­tro­duced to im­prove the com­pet­i­tive­ness of the sec­tor.

He said there was cur­rently “no in­cen­tive for a rand source mar­ket to hol­i­day in Zim­babwe” and called on the cen­tral bank to “in­cen­tivise rand ac­cep­tance as trans­ac­tional cur­rency in the tourism sec­tor”, which will boost con­ve­nience.

Ac­cord­ing to the Zim­babwe Tourism Au­thor­ity, South Africa is a ma­jor ac­cess point for tourists trav­el­ling to Zim­babwe ow­ing to the coun­try’s wide net­work of flights link­ing Cape Town, Johannesburg and Durban to other source mar­kets.

Pres­i­dent Robert Mu­gabe said in a statetele­vised in­ter­view last week that Zim­babwe should be us­ing mul­ti­ple cur­ren­cies, in­stead of re­ly­ing on the US dol­lar, which is in short sup­ply.

“We are in a mul­ti­ple-cur­rency sys­tem. I don’t know why the fi­nance min­is­ter and the Re­serve Bank gov­er­nor had not wanted to use other cur­ren­cies such as the rand, the euro or the yen. They say we are go­ing to do it, but have been hes­i­tant,” said Mu­gabe.

The gov­ern­ment has, how­ever, been reluc­tant to of­fi­cially or un­of­fi­cially adopt the rand, with Man­gudya pre­vi­ously say­ing Zim­babwe needed to have its own sub­stan­tive cur­rency first be­fore it could ask to join the rand mon­e­tary union.

Ac­cord­ing to Zim­stats, the “high­est ex­pen­di­ture [by tourists ar­riv­ing in Zim­babwe in 2015 and 2016] was on food and bev­er­ages”, fol­lowed by ac­com­mo­da­tion.

How­ever, tourists have com­plained about poor po­lice ser­vices at nu­mer­ous road­blocks, as well as poor road net­works and other in­fra­struc­ture.

Zim­babwe is re­liant on its south­ern neigh­bour for most raw ma­te­ri­als and other fin­ished prod­ucts.

Who is the gi­ant of Africa?

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