IMPORTANCE OF TOURISM
Tourism has been long identified as one of the areas of opportunity for Zimbabwe. Tourism is a foreign currency earner which currently contributes 10% to the GDP. According to the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe, in 2017 tourism foreign exchange receipts totalled $151 million, a contribution of 2,7% to the country’s total foreign receipts.
“Tourism policies and infrastructure can create massive opportunities for an economy, not only through job creation and direct/indirect income from tourism activities, but also creating opportunity for interaction and business avenues,” says Rishabh Thapar, Associate Director at global hospitality consultancy HVS Africa. “According to the World Travel and Tourism Council, while the direct contribution of travel and tourism to Zimbabwe’s GDP was 3.5%, the total contribution of travel and tourism to GDP – including wider effects from investment, the supply chain and induced income impacts – was over 8% in 2016 and 2017.”
It would appear that most travel itineraries in Southern Africa do not explore Zimbabwe’s tourist attractions beyond the famed Victoria Falls.
“This presents an opportunity. Zimbabwe has abundant natural attractions such as Nyanga National Park, Matopos National Park, Hwange National Park, Lake Kariba, the Great Zimbabwean Ruins and Chinhoyi Caves, which all need to be promoted and established into itineraries and tourism circuits,” says Thapar.
He recommends that a masterplan for all these destinations is developed to enhance the tourist’s experience and ultimately increase the length of stay in the country.
While the plan should focus on airlines, connectivity, hotels and tourism infrastructure and activities, Thapar concludes that the government would also need to invest into building a long-term tourism policy for preservation and conservation, while providing incentives for private investors.
“We anticipate that Zimbabwe is on the verge of a major economic turnaround that will result in an increased demand for rooms and MICE business,” says Tendai Madziwanyika, CEO of the Rainbow Tourism Group. “We believe that Zimbabwe is a safe, stable and secure country and we see significant interest in the country following the staging of the recent harmonised elections. This creates business and leisure growth opportunities for international hospitality brands and we expect to see new international entrants into the market.”