Chronicle (Zimbabwe) - - Business Chronicle - Busi­ness Re­porters

PLAY­ERS in the lo­cal tourism in­dus­try have re­solved to adopt a “rand-based” pric­ing sys­tem to cush­ion their busi­nesses from the pre­vail­ing cash cri­sis.

In the con­text of weak­en­ing re­gional cur­ren­cies, the use of the strong United States dol­lar has neg­a­tively af­fected tourist ar­rivals as the coun­try is viewed as an ex­pen­sive des­ti­na­tion.

Re­cent re­ports in­di­cate that some tourists want­ing to visit Vic­to­ria Falls, for in­stance, now pre­fer fly­ing into Liv­ing­stone in Zambia from where they un­der­take tourism ac­tiv­i­ties and only cross to Zim­babwe as Zam­bian clients — prej­u­dic­ing the coun­try of the pre­cious earn­ings.

Last week Fi­nance and Eco­nomic Devel­op­ment Min­is­ter Pa­trick Chi­na­masa re­vealed that the ap­proach (rand-based pric­ing sys­tem) has been agreed upon by the Gov­ern­ment, play­ers in the hos­pi­tal­ity sec­tor and the Re­serve Bank of Zim­babwe.

“In or­der for tourism in­dus­try to cush­ion it­self from the cur­rent liq­uid­ity and cash cri­sis, it is highly rec­om­mended that the sec­tor com­mences the use of the Rand Based Pric­ing Sys­tem as agreed upon be­tween the tourism min­istry, the hos­pi­tal­ity in­dus­try, and the Re­serve Bank,” said Min­is­ter Chi­na­masa in his Mid-Term fis­cal pol­icy re­view state­ment on Thurs­day.

In an in­ter­view yes­ter­day, the Ca­ter­ing Em­ploy­ers’ As­so­ci­a­tion of Zim­babwe im­me­di­ate past pres­i­dent Mr Joe Kah­wema said what Min­is­ter Chi­na­masa an­nounced was some­thing that was al­ready ob­tain­ing in the hos­pi­tal­ity sec­tor.

“Any­body is al­lowed to charge in any of the al­low­able cur­ren­cies. If they (tourists) have the rand, for ex­am­ple, I can­not turn them away, I will sim­ply col­lect the rand and rate it us­ing the pre­vail­ing daily ex­change rate against the US dol­lar.

“The rea­son why ho­tels in Zim­babwe are not com­pet­i­tive is not about the cur­rency is­sue but the in­put costs. The in­put costs in Zim­babwe are higher com­pared to South Africa and that has made ho­tels here un­com­pet­i­tive,” he said, adding that this was also the rea­son why Rain­bow Tourism Group’s Beit­bridge ho­tel closed down be­cause it could not com­pete with the rand rate ho­tels in Musina.

Min­is­ter Chi­na­masa said Zim­babwe’s tourism re­ceipts were av­er­ag­ing over $700 mil­lion per an­num and the sec­tor has po­ten­tial to con­trib­ute to al­le­vi­at­ing the liq­uid­ity chal­lenges in the econ­omy.

He said the first quar­ter of 2016 recorded an es­ti­mated 450 572 tourist ar­rivals, up from 387 557 dur­ing the same pe­riod last year, rep­re­sent­ing a 16 per­cent growth.

“All source re­gions recorded growth ex­cept for Ocea­nia. On the down­ward side, dur­ing the first half of 2016, two key Beit­bridge ho­tels — Hol­i­day Inn Ex­press and Rain­bow ho­tel — were closed down in the border town. These two ho­tels ac­counted for about 57 per­cent of rooms in Beit­bridge.”

Min­is­ter Chi­na­masa also an­nounced that for Zim­babwe to fully ex­ploit its nat­u­ral re­sources and tourism sites for the ben­e­fit of the econ­omy, the Gov­ern­ment was al­ready im­ple­ment­ing the Na­tional Tourism Pol­icy pro­mul­gated in 2014 with the Na­tional Tourism Mas­ter Plan ex­pected to be com­pleted this month.

“The Mas­ter Plan pro­vides an or­gan­ised and struc­tured frame­work for tourism devel­op­ment and pro­mo­tion. Bench­mark­ing ex­er­cises were car­ried out in Fe­bru­ary and June 2015 in South Africa and Tan­za­nia, re­spec­tively.

“Field vis­its to iden­tify Tourism Devel­op­ment Zones were fi­nalised and iden­ti­fi­ca­tion of pro­vin­cial projects was un­der­taken dur­ing July 2016,” he said.

Min­is­ter Chi­na­masa also high­lighted that the Spe­cial Eco­nomic Zones Bill, which has been ap­proved by Par­lia­ment and is await­ing Pres­i­den­tial as­sent, would boost tourism through im­ple­men­ta­tion of the des­ig­na­tion of Vic­to­ria Falls-Hwange-Binga-Kariba tourism cor­ri­dor as a spe­cial eco­nomic zone.

Zim­babwe par­tic­i­pated in some “must at­tend” tourism fairs that pro­vide an op­por­tu­nity to mar­ket the coun­try as a safe tourist des­ti­na­tion, en­dowed with nat­u­ral won­ders, a rich cul­tural her­itage, and in­vest­ment op­por­tu­ni­ties.

With the rise of glob­al­i­sa­tion, he noted, ev­ery coun­try faces stiff com­pe­ti­tion from oth­ers as they com­pete for tourist ar­rivals, and in­vest­ment.

“The com­pet­i­tive edge that dif­fer­ent tourism mar­kets strug­gle for is a func­tion of how pos­i­tively or neg­a­tively, as the case may be, a na­tion’s brand is per­ceived both at home and in the in­ter­na­tional com­mu­nity.

“Con­se­quently, the Gov­ern­ment in col­lab­o­ra­tion with the rel­e­vant stake­hold­ers is craft­ing a Na­tion Brand­ing Con­cept,” he said.

Min­is­ter Pa­trick Chi­na­masa

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