By Elvis Dumba
Chinhoyi – Players in the tourism industry have been urged to come up with strategies that scale up the uptake of tourism products in the province.
The call was made by Mashonaland West Minister for Provincial Affairs and Devolution, Mary Mliswa-Chikoka.
During her welcome address during the Kariba Regional Tourism Development and Marketing Strategy Stakeholder consultative workshop in Chinhoyi, Mliswa implored people from Mashonaland West to take up tourism products themselves for them to effectively market tourist attractions in the province.
“You can only market a tourist destination that you have experienced yourself and I encourage you to experience the tourist destinations we have so that you are able to market these to others. We cannot talk about something which we do not know, ” she said
Mliswa said tourism is a key pillar in the economic development plan of Mashonaland West Province which has a vast tourism potential that is largely untapped.
“We need to come up with a strategy that stimulates and creates sustainable synergies in the tourism sector that contribute to enhanced marketing of tourism products. Local authorities should come up with strategies that show tourism contribution activities in their area of jurisdictions,” she said
Mliswa said it’s unfortunate that local people do not participate in tourist activities in their backyard such as Kariba Invitational Tiger Fishing Competition.
She also called for proper registration for the tourism industry in the province.
“Are our lodges and guest houses properly registered so that we contribute effectively to the provincial GDP? This consultative meeting meeting has come at an opportune time following the decline of tourists and tourism activities due to the ravaging effects of COVID-19. We need to partner with Zimbabwe Tourism Authority to achieve an increase in tourists for our tourist attractions in the province.”
Permanent Secretary for Environment, Climate, Tourism, and Hospitality Industry, Mr. Munesuishe Munodawafa said the development and implementation of regional tourism and market strategy is one of the measures aimed at unlocking the tourism potential of Mashonaland West Province.
In his keynote address read on his behalf by Zimbabwe Tourism Authority Mashonaland West Provincial Co-ordinator Elyson Chigwere, Munodawafa said from the tourism development perspective, it is important to note that Mashonaland West has some of the best and most competitive tourism attractions in the country including Chinhoyi Caves, Mana Pools and Lake Kariba.
“It’s imperative to translate this potential into increased tourist arrival and tourism expenditure leading to increased contribution of tourism to provincial Gross Domestic Product,” he said.
Munodawafa said the tourism sector became the biggest casualty as it was hard hit by COVID-19 with tourist arrivals in the country falling by 76% in 2020 and taking the country 30 years back to 1991 arrivals.
“This stakeholder engagement workshop is critical as it provides a platform for the development of regional tourism strategy with the potential to turn around the fortunes of the tourism industry in the province, thereby contributing to the national tourism recovery and growth strategy.”