The race to seven bil­lion:

The Sunday Mail (Zimbabwe) - - FRONT PAGE - Ti­nashe Farawo Guest Colum­nist

TOURISM has be­come the lifeblood of many economies across the world.

In fact, re­search has shown that tourism con­trib­utes at least 10 per­cent of global gross do­mes­tic prod­uct (GDP), which trans­lates to one in ev­ery 10 jobs.

In 2017, the tourism sec­tor earned at least $1,4 tril­lion in ex­ports glob­ally.

It is fig­ures like these that have seen Pres­i­dent Em­mer­son Mnan­gagwa tak­ing tourism in Zim­babwe very se­ri­ously.

Govern­ment ef­forts have led to the in­crease in tourism re­ceipts since the com­ing in of the Se­cond Repub­lic, which brought with it a clean im­age.

Tourist arrivals in 2017 grew by 12 per­cent to 2,4 mil­lion and this year the fig­ure is ex­pected to sur­pass the 2,6—mil­lion mark.

Tourism re­ceipts also grew by the same mar­gin from $819 mil­lion in 2016 to $917 mil­lion last year, con­tribut­ing nearly 7 per­cent of GDP.

This year, it has al­ready hit $1 bil­lion and is ex­pected to con­trib­ute more than 10 per­cent to the GDP by year—end. Tourism is in­deed a gamechanger and big forex earner, to­gether with to­bacco and gold.

It also cre­ates em­ploy­ment, and the Zim­babwe Parks and Wildlife Man­age­ment Au­thor­ity (Zim­parks) plays a crit­i­cal role in terms of en­sur­ing that Govern­ment achieves its target of cre­at­ing an up­per mid­dle-in­come econ­omy in the next 12 years.

Apart from cre­at­ing job op­por­tu­ni­ties, the sec­tor also pro­motes en­trepreneur­ship, as thou­sands are in­volved in craft­ing arte­facts, sell­ing sou­venirs and pro­mot­ing the coun­try’s rich cul­ture.

Govern­ment, through the Min­is­ter of En­vi­ron­ment, Tourism and Hos­pi­tal­ity In­dus­try, has al­ready hit the ground run­ning to im­prove the sec­tor and at­tract more tourists.

In the past two months, the Min­is­ter of En­vi­ron­ment, Tourism and Hos­pi­tal­ity In­dus­try, Prisca Mup­fu­mira, at­tended the World Travel Mar­ket in Lon­don and the 12th edi­tion of the Izmir Tourism Fair in Izmir, Tur­key, on a cru­sade to at­tract more tourists to the coun­try. In Lon­don, the min­is­ter re­ceived an award, where Zim­babwe was voted as the third must—visit coun­try in the world.

“Take in laid­back cap­i­tal Harare, with its mu­se­ums, gal­leries, flea mar­kets and cos­mopoli­tan restau­rants. Take a walk on the re­ally wild side in Mana Pools Na­tional Park for thrilling, up—close an­i­mal en­coun­ters.

“Ex­pe­ri­ence the mys­tique of the world Her­itage—listed Great Zim­babwe, an 11th cen­tury ar­chae­o­log­i­cal site that re­mains the sym­bolic heart of the na­tion. Ex­plore the colo­nial ar­chi­tec­ture of Bu­l­awayo, then drop into nearby Ma­tobo Na­tional Park, home to rhi­nos and rock art. Drop by Hwange Na­tional Park to wit­ness its mas­sive ele­phant herd and take in the ma­jes­tic Vic­to­ria Falls at full bore, be­fore grab­bing a pad­dle to tame some Grade V rapids,” reads the award’s ci­ta­tion.

In an ef­fort to pro­mote do­mes­tic tourism dur­ing the World Tourism Day com­mem­o­ra­tion, Zim­parks al­lowed free en­try to all Zim­bab­weans at its parks.

The au­thor­ity is also in the process of re­duc­ing en­trance fees for lo­cals in a bid to boost do­mes­tic tourism, which peren­ni­ally plays se­cond fid­dle to in­ter­na­tional tourism.

It is im­por­tant to note that since the com­ing in of the New Dis­pen­sa­tion, there is a 25 per­cent in­crease in in­ter­na­tional arrivals from 566 432 by Oc­to­ber 2017 to 706 359 by Oc­to­ber 2018. For lo­cal tourists, the fig­ure also rose from 299 647 by Oc­to­ber 2017 to 291 235 dur­ing the same pe­riod, which rep­re­sents a 27 per­cent jump.

Al­though in­ter­na­tional arrivals en­joy a lion’s share of 59 per­cent against 41 per­cent in terms of vis­i­tors to na­tional parks, the au­thor­ity is in the process of putting mech­a­nisms in place to en­sure there are more arrivals from the do­mes­tic mar­ket. ◆ Ti­nashe Farawo is Zim­parks pub­lic re­la­tions and com­mu­ni­ca­tions man­ager.

Min­is­ter Mup­fu­mira

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