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DERELICT facilities are hampering Zimbabwe’s efforts to revive the country’s tourism sector, officials said.

Dr Fredrick Kasese, the Zimbabwe Tourism Authority (ZTA) Masvingo Provincial Chairman, told CAJ News that most hotels in the country were currently operating at below capacity due to non-expansion and rehabilitation of basic tourism facilities.

Kasese cited the example of hotels in Masvingo, a city in southern Zimbabwe, which he said were struggling to remain operational due to low business.

“For example, from the eight major hotels that are in Masvingo most are operating below 25 percent capacity utilization, with much business coming from organizations that come for conferences as the demand for hotel facilities by individuals has been declining over the past years. The decline in business is solely due to dilapidated tourism facilities which are in dire need of refurbishment” Kasese said.

He said statistics from last year revealed that hotels recorded 2 percent bookings from foreign tourist while 98 percent were from local clients who were mainly companies organizing conferences.

He said the key thrust for this year was to develop a national tourism blue print which will unlock the dormant potential the country has to emerge as a g competitor in the global world.

“Masvingo is without doubt one of Zimbabwe’s finest holiday and tourism destination, which has not been fully tapped. If we are to entertain any hopes of growth we need more investment in accommodation sector particularly three to five stars hotels, luxury lodges and conference facilities to boost competition,” he said.

Masvingo Province boasts of the major tourism attraction centres such as the Great Zimbabwe Monuments, from where the country derives its name.

The province also boasts the Gonarezhou National Park, Lake Mutirikwi, the giant Tokwe Mukosi Dam and the Save Valley Conservancies among others.

The area has not been spared the dwindling fortunes of the country’s tourism industry.

The political and economic problems Zimbabwe has suffered over the years have taken a toll on the sector that was once the mainstay of the economy.

Tourism and Hospitality Minister, Walter Mzembi, has called for a combined effort within government departments to vigorously market the country.

“We have to move together as a family in order to promote tourism in the country and this can only be done if some of us stop demonizing the country a move that will scare away potential tourists ,”said Mzembi.

Source : CAJ News Agency