Home » Travel » Tourism to Earn U.S $3 Billion

The country receives about two million tourists annually, and the number is projected to rise to 3,2 million by the end of this year.

REVENUE from the country’s tourism industry is projected to rise to US$3 billion in the next three years before increasing to US$5 billion targeted by 2020, a senior government official has said.

This would highlight the critical role that the sector is expected to play in an economy where industries have been crumbling.

The projections were made by the Ministry of Tourism and Hospitality Industry under the tourism policy that was launched last year.

“We are now a US$1 billion industry,” said tourism minister, Walter Mzembi.

The tourism sector has been contributing about US$700 million to the economy per annum.

“It is contestable who (among economic sectors) is at the top but at the very least we are number two in terms of revenue contribution to the fiscus from the four pillars. At the very least, we should be doing US$3 billion by the year 2018, all things being equal,” said Mzembi, who spoke as government announced a new seven member Zimbabwe Tourism Authority (ZTA) board.

The four economic pillars that government has said will lead the recovery of the economy are manufacturing, tourism, mining and agriculture.

The new ZTA board announced last week will be chaired by TelOne managing director, Chipo Mtasa, the former chief executive officer of Rainbow Tourism Group.

The ambitious tourism blueprint unveiled in August is expected to lift hundreds of families out of poverty and create 100 000 jobs by the end of this year.

Mzembi, whose national tourism policy appeared to heavily lean towards attracting tourists from the so-called BRICS economies – Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa – following a diplomatic fallout with traditional western markets, which now contribute 13 percent of annual arrivals from 27 percent in 1999, was said to be a panacea to the downturn in the economy.

The country receives about two million tourists annually, and the number is projected to rise to 3,2 million by the end of this year.

The blueprint says staff complement in the sector would reach 400 000 this year, from 300 000 last year, a huge surge that could transform an economy that has seen 10 firms closing every month and as much as 300 jobs being lost every week.

The benefits are expected to cascade to at least 500 000 more people, given that a Zimbabwean family averages five to six members.

But a raft of growth inhibiting factors still linger in Zimbabwe after the removal of crippling travel warnings by western markets in 2009, poor accessibility, lack of funding, negative perception in the global markets and dilapidated tourism infrastructure.

In a country experiencing tepid growth and extensive diminution of value of tourism assets triggered by a slide in arrivals, talk of an upturn is good news, but many Zimbabweans, tired of deception by public officials, could take the comments as another spin to prolong their patience.

At the launch of the policy, Mzembi said he was determined.

“We can begin to rebuild the walls and show that we can recover again,” he told delegates.

He projected tourism receipts to climb to US$1,8 billion by 2015, from US$749 million as arrivals increase to 3,2 million from 2,5 million.

Cabinet is currently contemplating reviewing of a cluster of growth inhibiting factors, including restrictive visa regimes for the BRICS market.

Zimbabwe is targeting at least five percent of 100 million Chinese tourists who travel the world per annum, spending US$1,4 billion.

“After the United Nations World Tourism Organisation general assembly we agreed to go back to our governments and lobby for open skies,” said Mzembi.

“If you want to enjoy the wealth of the world, the gates must be opened,” he said.

“We must return to our air traffic hub status that we enjoyed in 1999 when we had 48 airlines. We were busier than Oliver Tambo Airport (in South Africa),” said Mzembi, who wants government to approve at least nine Chinese airlines from different provinces to fly into Zimbabwe.

Source : Financial Gazette