Home » Travel » ZTA Hamstrung By Lack of Funding

THE Zimbabwe Tourism Authority says its operations have been seriously hamstrung by funding limitations, forcing the authority to suspend participation at a number of major global travel market events.Chief executive officer Mr Karikoga Kaseke said that the authority received only $585 000 under the 2015 national budget because Government was faced with serious funding constraints.

This was far short of the $35 million ZTA had requested from Treasury, which it was asked to revise downward to $20 million, but only received just over half a million dollars in the end.

The amount was little changed from the budget allocation of $2 million in the previous budget while only $1,1 million was eventually released with $827 million generated from tourism that year.

According to ZTA, Zimbabwe would have done extremely well if it generated $1,5 billion from tourism under the circumstances, but it is anticipated that less than a billion dollars will be realised this year.

This is a far cry from the $15 billion that South Africa generated in 2014 after its Government funded the tourism authority’s to the tune of $204 million at national level while each province got $10 million.

This year, South Africa allocated $160 million at national level and further $15 million each to promote tourism at provincial level.

The ZTA boss made the remarks while responding to questions from journalists during a press briefing to dispel what he termed erroneous report from comments in a recent World Economic Forum Report.

Government finds itself seriously constrained to be able to fund key sectors of the economy, which Mr Kaseke said contributes 11 percent to gross domestic product and employees about 180 00 directly or indirectly, due to the ailing economy and declining tax revenue.

ZTA, Mr Kaseke said, was alive to the serious financial challenges facing the Government as it could not continue taxing already stretched taxpayers, but noted the situation was hampering its efforts to promote Zimbabwe as a prime tourist destination.

It is against this background that the authority estimates that the industry will, once again, only be able to generate under a billion dollars from tourism related activities as ZTA’s capacity to market is limited.

“We cancelled a lot of shows, but others (from southern Africa) were there. That has put a big challenge on our mandate. As such, we have suspended most of our programmes,” Mr Kaseke said.

Due to the financial problems, ZTA failed to take part at this year’s International Travel Bourse in Berlin German, most global travel shows in the Middle East where Zimbabwe has the most direct flights.

In contrast, South Africa attended a total of 184 travel shows, Botswana 97, Zambia over 70 and “Zimbabwe how many did we attend? less than 10, only eight to be specific”, the ZTA boss said.

Earlier, Mr Kaseke had said that reports in independent media based on selected excerpts of the WEF Competitiveness Report, which insinuated that the country was the worst tourism destination globally, were erroneous as it remains the best destination.

Overall, he said WEF noted that Zimbabwe’s ranking had improved from 115 out of 141 countries from 136 out of 139 countries, which he said ZTA and the whole country should celebrate.

Mr Kaseke said the rankings were done in terms of four major pillars namely enabling environment, travel and tourism policy and enabling conditions, infrastructure, natural and cultural resources.

“Zimbabwe was ranked fairly in some key aspects of these four pillars related to their importance in tourism,” the ZTA boss said on Friday.

The country was ranked first on incidence of terrorism sub-index, 44 on price competitiveness, 44 on natural resources, 60 on natural and cultural resources, 63 on environmental sustainability and 86 on cultural resources and business travel out of 141.

“It is indeed a pity that all these positive attributes of our destination did not find space in the article under scrutiny,” he said.

The country has been shortlisted for the Routes Middle East and Africa Marketing Awards in the destination category and is part of four countries deemed to be best destinations in Africa and Middle East.

It was awarded best tourist destination for 2014 and most favourite cultural destination for 2014 by the European Union Council for Tourism.

The New York Times found it to be the 14th best place to visit in 2015, out of a total of 52 places that the leading US newspaper considered.

Source : The Herald