RBZ unveils $15m tourism facility

HARARE - The Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe (RBZ) has unveiled a $15 million tourism development support facility to fund tourism projects as well as entice new sector players.

Addressing stakeholders at the launch of the facility at a local hotel yesterday, the Tourism and Hospitality Industry minister , Prisca Mupfumira, said the facility was part of the ministry’s 100-day assignments goals to quickly turn around the fortunes of the faltering tourism industry.

The facility, she said, would mainly be used for four projects and programmes for implementation under the 100-day targeted performance; namely devising the tourism strategy, promoting domestic tourism, marketing Zimbabwe’s tourism products and creation of a tourism satellite account.

Mupfumira said the ministry would give priority to access of tourism destinations.

“Whilst tourism plays a major role in the economic well-being of Zimbabwe, there is often no co-ordination of policies across sectors to enable tourism growth.

Chief among the challenges affecting tourism growth are limited international air access, inadequate internal airline connectivity, poor state of roads in tourism resorts and a non-competitive tourism product that is not only overpriced but old and tired.

“The main objective of the national tourism sector strategy is to harness and coordinate all efforts for holistic tourism development in Zimbabwe and ensure a shared vision for tourism development.

“In this regard we will be undertaking consultative workshops to give each and every Zimbabwean from all walks of life to input into this strategy.”

She said in addition to these meetings, she will engage all relevant government ministries, government agencies, tourism association, civil society and even tourists themselves to find out how best she can serve them.

“We will set up a robust communication strategy for this purpose which will include enabling various stakeholders to reach to us through provincial tourism offices, through email, our websites and written inputs to the ministry.

“The strategy is very important in shaping the future of tourism hence the need to consult widely,” she said.

On domestic tourism, Mupfumira said government will use the facility to fund awareness campaigns countrywide.

“The campaign is aimed at making tourism accessible to locals through intensified awareness of what the country has to offer. Under this programme, the 10 publicity associations run by local authorities countrywide will be re-branded into tourism information centres.

“My ministry through the Zimbabwe Tourism Authority (ZTA) will provide them with grants to fund regional marketing plans.

“We will also work closely with the ministry of Local Government in conducting training to ensure these publicity associations are well capacitated to promote tourism development,” said Mupfumira.

She added that the ministry would also establish a national tourism facilitation committee, whose main task would be to clear hurdles to travelling within the country’s boarders and facilitate smooth entrance of tourists into the country via its airports and border posts.

“My ministry will push for the establishment of a national tourism facilitation committee, whose main aim will be to deal with impediments to travel.

“As you are all aware, in the past the nation had to deal with the incessant cries  of harassment of tourists at police roadblocks and we are looking at reviewing the cost of our tourist products downwards.

“For example, people are charged seven dollars to see the Victoria Falls and you find out that people residing in the closer Chinotimba Township have never been there, which is very unfair,” she said.

“The ministry has also intensified efforts to ensure we develop a National Tourism Satellite Account which is a United Nations World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO), prescribed tool for measuring the contribution of tourism to the economy. In this regard, having completed the international visitor exit survey in 2016, we have embarked on the domestic and outbound tourism survey.

“As I speak, teams are out in the provinces to carry out this extended household survey which kicked off on the 27th of December 2017 and will run until the 10th of February 2018,” she added.

The minister, however, warned that some tourism players who are operating without registration will not benefit from the facility, and urged them to register by March 31.

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