HARARE, July 25– Zimbabwean Vice-President Joice Mujuru has launched the country’s new Tourism Policy which seeks to facilitate delivery of high quality, sustainable tourism products and services which aid economic development.

The tourism sector in Zimbabwe is on the rebound after years of decline mainly caused by bad publicity the country received from Western media over the past decade after the country implemneted agrarian reforms to correct a colonial imbalance.

Despite improving since the adoption of multiple foreign currencies in 2009, the sector still faces challenges which include inadequate infrastructure and limited air connectivity.

Vice-President Mujuru told guests at the launch here Thursday that the new policy would assist in developing the tourism sector in the country. “This is a significant development given that the tourism sector has been identified as one of the major drivers of economic growth under the cluster-based economic blueprint, ZimAsset,” she said.

“I have no doubt that this national tourism policy will be a compass to guide us to lay a solid foundation for the sustainable development of tourism in Zimbabwe.”

She added that Zimbabwe should leverage on achievements such as the successful co-hosting with Zambia of the United Nations World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) General Assembly in August last year and the conferment of international awards, namely the best cultural destination and best tourism destination for 2014 by the European Council for Tourism and Trade.

“This should spur us to work even harder in order to move beyond isolation and negative publicity to reclaim our market share in the global tourism arena,” she said.

Vice-President Mujuru said there was need to incorporate new aspects into the sector including promoting domestic tourism. “The challenge we face is to ensure future growth. In this respect we need to identify new areas that offer greater potential for tourism development. Let us stretch tourism activity and attractions beyond the traditional destinations and main city centers,” she said.

Tourism and Hospitality Industry Minister Walter Mzembi said tourism was one area of the economy which,
when vigorously supported, could play a leading role in transforming the economy. “There are three pillars of the economy namely agriculture, manufacturing and mining but those are not areas which yield immediate
results because of processes involved. Even if you talk of beneficiation it does not happen overnight, it takes time. What we can do which is a low hanging fruit, that which we can do to bring wealth to us, is tourism,” he said.

Mzembi said it was also crucial to remove barriers that hindered tourism development such as stringent visa processes.