Home » Travel » Revisit the President’s Know Your Zim Campaign

The lifting of travel warnings by some Western countries, and the generally improved economic environment opened Zimbabwe’s tourism industry to a fresh era of positive activity.

A recent report by the World Travel and Tourism Council (WTTC) showed that arrivals into Zimbabwe hovered around 2 million between 2010 and 2013, then 2,5 million in 2014 when the country co-hosted the UNWTO with Zambia.

In 2014 President Mugabe received the Best Tourism Award.

At the ceremony his Excellency made a call for all stakeholders to put emphasis on domestic tourism.

I gly believe that while the Hotels Association of Zimbabwe (HAZ) puts emphasis on marketing tourist cites internationally, charity should begin at home.

Efforts should be channelled towards aggressive marketing of domestic tourism.

I listened a day ago with keen interest to the views by HAZ second vice president, Mr George Manyumwa, who called on all players in the hospitality industry to focus their efforts in aertising the tourist destinations we have at an international level.

While I largely agree with my learned colleague in relation to international tourism, the 15 percent GDP contribution can largely be achieved if more effort is directed towards domestic tourism.

We have an estimated population of 13 million and around 2 million abroad.

While foreigners are viewed as large spenders, locals can match the contribution through pushing volumes.

We have individuals who have all the resources at their disposal but as a nation little is being done to promote domestic tourism.

What is most shocking is that a person can grow and die in Harare without visiting Lake Chivero and see what the National Parks has done.

There are people who were born and bred in Chinhoyi only reading about the Chinhoyi Caves in newspapers and books.

Some have stayed in Bulawayo from childhood to adult age without having visited Matopo Hills or Khami ruins.

Others have been residents of Hwange since birth but just fantasising about visiting the game reserve.

Many stay in Chinotimba suburb in Victoria Falls but just hear the roaring sounds of lions and elephants from a distance.

A number of people have lived in Victoria Falls all their lives but just watch the falls from a distance and see the rainbow each morning.

This is not only sad but pathetic.

Domestic tourism should be the epicentre of ZTA or HAZ efforts.

Surely, a lot can be done to arrest the situation. Let’s pluck a leaf from Kenya, where stakeholders in the domestic tourism have compelled government to increase its budgetary allocation to local tourism marketing in a bid to stop over-reliance on international travellers.

Our tourism sector can never achieve its full potential without promoting domestic tourism.

I believe the call by his Excellency was right, we don’t just know our Zimbabwe. The “Know your Zimbabwe Campaign” should be supported through all platforms.

There are a lot of expectations from the tourism sector, which should contribute 15 percent to the GDP.

Domestic tourism can contribute significantly towards the achievement of this target.

For instance, China’s domestic tourism contributes over 4 percent to the growth of the country’s GDP and greatly enhances employment, consumption and economic development.

China saw 3,3 billion domestic tourists spending 2,6 trillion Yuan (US$429,7 billion) around the country, according to official figures.

While one may argue about failure by individuals to have disposable incomes, I gly think the few that can afford can still contribute significantly.

One great benefit of promoting domestic tourism is to compensate for seasonal variations in overseas tourism thereby sustaining tourism demand.

Domestic tourism is much less sensitive to crises.

It is therefore an excellent crisis shock-absorber, especially in the face of economic challenges.

Secondly, the sector can continue to create employment and the creation of other small to medium enterprises through support functions, hence helping to achieve one of the goals of Zim-Asset.

Domestic tourism will equally help people to participate in the process of tourism development, thereby harnessing the conservation of heritage parks. Harnessing domestic tourism will help locals to have a better appreciation of their country, love the country and all in it.

Domestic tourism also results in the development of infrastructure in rural areas, increased tax revenues from economic activity, the opportunity for people to visit new and interesting places, to experience new things and the chance for both the tourist and the service provider to benefit from contact with others.

Therefore, Government and the private sector should together discuss ways to improve domestic tourism.

ZTA together with HAZ can increase the number of local tourists by educating citizens about (domestic) tourism.

Hotels can encourage local people by offering them reduced hotel rates.

It’s extremely expensive to visit tourist areas where prices are too high for locals. Reasonable prices should be charged.

The introduction of tourism education in schools is also important.

Source : The Herald