How sustainable is tourism in Zim?

HARARE - While there are many definitions of sustainable tourism, it is important for Zimbabweans to know what  they all mean. One wonders then if it possible to have sustainable tourism without responsible tourism or can there be sustainability without responsibility?
According to the World Tourism Organisation, sustainable tourism development requires the informed participation of all relevant stakeholders, as well as strong political leadership to ensure wide participation and consensus building.

Achieving sustainable tourism is a continuous process and it requires constant monitoring of impacts, introducing the necessary preventive and/or corrective measures whenever necessary.

Sustainable tourism should also maintain a high level of tourist satisfaction and ensure a meaningful experience to the tourists, raising their awareness about sustainability issues and promoting sustainable tourism practices amongst them.

Responsible tourism is tourism which  minimizes negative social, economic and environmental impacts, generates greater economic benefits for local people — enhances the well-being of host communities involves local people in decisions that affect their lives and makes positive contributions to the conservation of natural and cultural heritage while at the same time embracing diversity.

Is tourism in Zimbabwe sustainable?  

Judging from recent media reports, tourism in Zimbabwe is neither responsible nor sustainable.

The Zimbabwe Conservation Task Force for example released a report five years ago estimating 60 percent of Zimbabwe’s wildlife had died since 2000 due to poaching and deforestation.

The report warns that the loss of life combined with widespread deforestation is potentially disastrous for the tourist industry.  

The indiscriminate thoughtlessness and greed Zimbabweans are showing through the ever-increasing decimation of wetlands in and around cities by insatiable land developing moguls, the wonton destruction by selfish couldn’t-care-less people, coupled with the destruction of our natural heritage, flora and fauna by the hands of those entrusted to safeguard this inheritance for future generations.

There is already little if anything, for tourists to visit our cities, owing to the blatant disregard of the authorities to fix and clean up the cities of both, litter and human pollution.

We are now left with eco-tourism which is one of the strongest aspects of Zimbabwean tourism; But for how much longer? Eco-tourism is an important class of sustainable tourism.

All forms of tourism can become more sustainable but not all forms of tourism can be ecotourism.

“Eco-tourism is environmentally responsible travel to comparatively undisturbed natural areas, in order to enjoy, study and appreciate nature (and any accompanying cultural features — both past and present), that promote conservation, has low visitor impact, and provides for local populations beneficially.”

Come on Zimbabweans — let’s get our ducks in a row and stop the rot and start thinking of others instead of ourselves and relying on others to conserve what God has bestowed on us — Nhaka yedu irimumawoko edu!

Our Heritage is in our hands! - Staff Writer

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