TOURISM minister Walter Mzembi wants Treasury to allocate 1% — about $41 million — of the government’s budget to his ministry to create a development fund and market the country.
BY TATIRA ZWINOIRA
This comes as Mzembi launched the Zimbabwe National Tourism Master Plan (ZNTMP) yesterday in Harare, which aims to bolster domestic tourism, promote international tourism and increase tourism revenue.
Speaking to the media on the sidelines of the launch, Mzembi said global tourism statistics should be an indication of the incremental and exponential growth potential of the sector in the country.
“Now, you cannot miss, in your budget assumptions, a pillar that is doing that much,” he said.
“It means even here, when I look at how it has grown in leaps and bounds since 2009 from a $200 million economy to the $1 billion that it is today, it means there is incremental and exponential growth, but this is just largely coming out of natural attractiveness of the destination plus branding, we have not yet started investing in it, we must then apply basic laws, the laws of diminishing returns.”
The sector is expected to contribute $1 billion to the economy by the end of the year, up by 18,09% from last year’s estimated $819 million contribution.
According to the ZNTMP, tourism will surpass diaspora remittances to become the second highest foreign currency earner, up from third.
“We must invest in the sector (tourism) so that it gives us more,” Mzembi continued.
“So, that is really my plea today, that in terms of fiscal appropriation, if we can command, say 1% of fiscal appropriation going towards tourism, we will be able to do our marketing and promotion better.
“If we can convince fiscal authorities to put in place a tourism development fund, so that we unlock this potential that is being exposed in this masterplan then we can begin product development and our product will grow bigger and better.”
ZNTMP, a plan covering the 2016 to 2035 period, says 11 areas have been designated as tourism development zones (TDZ).
These TDZs are Harare, Eastern Highlands, Chimanimani, Gonarezhou, Limpopo, Great Zimbabwe, Midlands, Bulawayo, Victoria Falls, Kariba and Mavhuradonha, which will act as areas of focus for attracting tourists.
The TDZs will have incentives meant to attract tourists and prioritise them in the national tourism agenda.
The ZNTMP also projects tourism revenue to grow to $4,55 billion by 2035, which Mzembi disputed, as his ministry projects tourism revenue to grow to $5 billion by at least 2020.
The plan envisages that tourist arrivals will rise from to 2017’s projected 2,2 million to 3,475 million by 2035.
Mzembi has called on tourism players to make contributions before he submits the ZNTMP to Cabinet.
Development of the ZNTMP started in 2014 and was completed early this year, with assistance from the African Development Bank.