Business Community Development Health Legal and Parliamentary Affiars Tourism Travel

Junior Parliamentarians propose measures to revive the tourism sector

Tourism stakeholders engage junior parliamentarians

Junior Parliamentarians today proposed a raft of innovative measures to enhance the contribution of tourism to the economy as the sector is emerging from the devastating effects of the COVID-19 pandemic.

They made the contributions today during the commemoration of World Tourism Month celebrations at the inaugural Debate Session by Junior Parliamentarians organised by the Ministry of Environment, Climate, Tourism, and Hospitality Industry in conjunction with the Zimbabwe Tourism Authority (ZTA) and other partners. Historically, 27 September, is a special day in the global Tourism Industry, celebrated as World Tourism Day since 1970.

In his keynote address during the debate session, Hon Mangaliso Ndlovu, the minister of Environment, Climate, Tourism, and Hospitality Industry said this year’s celebration held under the theme, “Rethinking Tourism” presents an opportunity for us as Zimbabweans to introspect and come up with innovative measures to enhance the contribution of Tourism to the economy, as we drift from the devastating effects of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Among other proposals, junior parliamentarians want stakeholders to raise awareness of local tourism products in a bid to make domestic tourism thrive. They called for the utilization of digital platforms to market Zimbabwe and generate the profile of the country to reach the world at large.

The junior parliamentarians warned against the abuse of the Internet by some media practitioners who risk projecting a negative image of the country but Hon Kindness Paradza, the Deputy Minister of Information, Publicity and Broadcasting Services assured them that the Media Practitioners Bill will regulate the operation of media including online platforms.

Ms. Winnie Muchanyuka, the Chief Executive of the Zimbabwe Tourism Authority (ZTA) embraced the proposal to invest in drone technology at tourism destinations in a bid to improve security as a welcome development.

“The need to invest in drone technology at tourism destinations with a view of improving security is pertinent. We have also taken heed of proposals by the junior parliamentarians to address the issue of children in the streets and already there are efforts to accommodate them in children’s homes. The honourable parliamentarians have said digital marketing is the way to go in terms of attracting tourists and we are going to do exactly as suggested.

“The sector will also develop more research on destination awareness for potential visitors to our country. We have been invited to explore the hidden tourism gems in the provinces in order to increase visibility and awareness of less-known tourism sites. The pricing of tourism and our products have been also described as an elephant in the room. The ZTA is engaging the industry to make tourism affordable to local consumers. We also recognise the need for ministries to speak with one voice to help tourism development. The call to introduce tourism innovation hubs within training institutions is also welcome” Ms. Muchanyuka said.

The junior parliamentarians said youth empowerment in Tourism is key to a resilient and sustainable recovery of the sector.

Minister Ndlovu said the government will endeavour to ensure that youths have a seat at the table, to participate in mainstream Tourism activities.

“In addition, adequate support mechanisms will be put in place through mentorship, vocational training, skills development and leadership training. I am happy that so far, the Tourism Youth Innovation challenge has been successfully rolled-out in the different Provinces as part of the key highlights for 2022. We are now preparing to host final national competitions, courtesy of the Zimbabwe Tourism Authority,” he said.

The Tourism landscape has changed drastically in the last three years. The outbreak and spread of COVID-19 have had a devastating impact on our Tourism industry in Zimbabwe and across the globe. Zimbabwe like other countries in the world has witnessed a collapse in international tourist arrivals since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic. During this time, the Government supported the sector by extending stimulus packages to the Tourism Industry.

The Ministry, working closely with the Tourism Industry players, crafted the National Tourism Recovery and Growth Strategy (NTRGS) to adapt and recover the sector in the changed Tourism environment. The Strategy was launched by President Emmerson Mnangagwa and is already paying dividends in terms of tourist arrivals, tourism receipts, and tourism investments in the Sector.

“So far, during the first half of 2022, the Tourism Sector showed strong recovery registering a 115% rise in tourist arrivals, compared with the same period in 2021. The tourist receipts also increased by 121% in 2022 to US$337.5 million compared to US$152.8 million in 2021. A sharp increase in Domestic entries into national parks during the period January to May 2022 is again a signal for a strong recovery of the sector. During the same period, we recorded a 79% increase in new investments with a total of US$96.5 million recorded.

“There is no doubt that the last three years have proven to be extremely difficult for all involved in Tourism, but hopefully, as evidenced by the performance thus far, the worst effects of the pandemic are behind us. While the outlook is certainly better now we must remain conscious of further challenges ahead and keep our eye on the ball. As we enter the recovery phase for tourism, competition to attract tourists globally will be more challenging than ever and I am more than confident that our Tourism Industry is equally equipped and up to the challenge,” Minister Ndlovu added.

About the author

Byron Adonis Mutingwende