Time to dump friends fro the East

HARARE - Facts do not lie. It is all in the numbers contained in the Zimbabwe Tourism Authority (ZTA) report released this week.

The ZTA has a lot of zest in trying to make Zimbabwe a good destination for tourists, again.

And their statistics, while not painting a grim picture considering the figures of the period of economic and political instability, do tell where our huge hopes of reviving tourism lie.

While there has been a lot of hype and hullabaloo about how Zimbabwe is gaining significantly from its Look East policy, America and Europe remain the sources of huge contributions to the tourism service sector.

The United States and Canada continue to be the leading tourism source markets, contributing 93 percent of arrival shares to the country in the first quarter of 2013.

What this means is that Zimbabwe is getting more business from its so-called enemies than friends.

Trade between the US and Zimbabwe doubled between 2003 and 2008, even as it imposed targeted sanctions against President Robert Mugabe and members of his inner circle.

The United Kingdom remains Zimbabwe’s second most important trading partner, importing $1,62 billion in goods from Zimbabwe in 2011, against a backdrop of sanctions.

The balance of trade between the European Union (EU) and Zimbabwe was $171 million in Zimbabwe’s favour in 2012.

By contrast, the country’s trade balance with China that same year was $320 million in China’s favour.

This is why it is in our interest to court countries that significantly contribute towards our economic revival.

However, it is critical that both government and the ZTA take an aggressive campaign to lure more Europeans and Americans to Zimbabwe.

The US this week projected Zimbabwe to receive nearly 2 million visitors next year of which a third of these would be Americans.

It is time we bin the Zanu PF and Mugabe’s rhetoric which is more about whipping up nationalist support and building political credibility than making any forceful stand against imperialism or neo-colonialism.

We are aware there have been “genuine” re-engagement efforts by the fishmonger group and we applaud these.

Zimbabwe has got to do more — showing the appetite to mend bridges with genuine countries than engage selfish “friends from the East” whose sole aim is to enrich their coffers.

We are greatly endowed with mineral resources and other appealing goods which can change the lives of our impoverished populace. - Staff Writer

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