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COVID-19: Zimbabwe Launches Tourism Recovery Strategy to Boost Economic Growth




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By Daniel Jones, Harare

(AFRICAN EXAMINER) – Zimbabwe has launched a National Tourism Recovery and Growth Strategy whose objective is to ‘restart’ tourism and boost arrivals in the wake of the global pandemic, Covid-19.

President Mnangagwa launched the strategy in Victoria Falls, the country’s tourism capital where he said hopes are high to achieve a US$5 billion tourism economy by 2025.

The Southern African country five years ago came up with a similar National Tourism Policy where it aimed to hit US$5 billion in tourism receipts by 2020, but failed along the line owing to a fall in arrivals due to a battered country’s image and political turmoil among other reasons.

A budget and economic review report by government showed that last year arrivals fell by 11 percent from 2 579 974 in 2018 to 2 294 259, making a 10 percent drop from US$1,39 billion to US$1,25 billion in the two comparable years.

The country had this year hoped to revive the sector, which is one of the four key pillars of the economy, before Covid-19 caused an unprecedented closure of the economy, with hotel occupancy dropping to 3 percent in March.

Fears are high tourism could lose 85 percent of targeted revenue this year because of the pandemic.

Mnangagwa however remains hopeful his country, currently under spotlight for alleged human rights abuses characterized by abductions and arrest of activists and journalists, will still achieve a US$5 billion tourism economy in five years.

“The lockdown period has witnessed the reinvigoration of the Falls and renewal of the ecosystem and the surrounding environment.

“The National Tourism Recovery and Growth Strategy we are launching today is anchored on Zimbabwe’s vision to be a prime international tourist destination based on the judicious and sustainable exploitation of unique assets of nature, culture, heritage, and the built environment,” he said at an event held inside the Rainforest,” he said.

The Rainforest, habouring Victoria Falls which is a world heritage site and one of the Seven Natural Wonders of the world, had been closed for 100 days during national lockdown.

The lockdown is still underway while the rainforest recently opened to local public paving way for the official opening by Mnangagwa Thursday.

The majestic Falls which is located across Africa’s 4th longest river, Zambezi River between Zimbabwe and Zambia, is Zimbabwe’s key tourism attraction.

The tourism strategy seeks to unlock Zimbabwe’s creativity and innovation as well as fund the tourism to offer clients new products and services so as to gain a competitive edge in the region and globally.

Mnangagwa said tourism is key to his vision as Zimbabwe’s president.

“We are opening up these facilities so that we can offer our visitors an even more enjoyable product. This strategy is informed by my government’s Vision 2030 to become an upper middle-income economy characterised by increased investment, decent jobs and a populace free from poverty and corruption.

“The tourism sector has an important role to play in the attainment of this national vision as it is one of the four pillars underpinning growth of our economy. The high growth target of this strategy which seeks to achieve a US$5 billion tourism economy by the year 2025 is ambitious and they achievable. This target challenges the sector to work harder to achieve increased domestic and international tourist arrivals, room occupancy and increased tourist expenditures in the economy,” added Mnangagwa.

However, he has been criticized for failing to nip corruption following harassment of whistleblowers and failure to prosecute his top allies fingered in graft.

Besides tourism, Mnangagwa’s hopes are also in agriculture, mining and manufacturing sectors which are all operating below capacity.


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