By Martin Muleya
NYANGA- Tourism players in Zimbabwe eastern and jewel province, Manicaland, are bemoaning environmental degradation that is taking place due to improper farming activities and wanton destruction of trees as well as poor communication networks particularly in Vumba area among other plethora of problems that have derailed the success of domestic tourism in the province.
In an interview with this publication, on the sidelines of the National Tourism Recovery and Growth Strategy indaba that was held in the resort town of Nyanga on 1 October 2020, chairperson of Hospitality Association of Zimbabwe (HAZ) Manicaland Chapter, Charlton Chimbira, indicated that the consultation which his association had with the Minister responsible for tourism to revive domestic tourism in the province could bear fruits.
“The biggest problem that we have is environmental degradation. Removal of ground cover due to bad farming practices and cutting down of trees are the chief problems. Connectivity is another setback because Vumba is a very mountainous area and tourism players there find it difficult to have systems that depend on networks.
“We had a problem with a service provider, Econet but the minister intervened on the impasse. Another challenge is air accessibility of Manicaland province. An airport, Grand Reef and other air strips require rehabilitation. The rehabilitation exercise should be taken as a matter of urgency,” noted Chimbira.
The HAZ boss further indicated that as a hoteliers association, it aspires to boost the marketing of key attraction sites in Manicaland by promoting the resurrecting of flora and fauna so that all private players benefit from varied packages.
Chimbira added that there was need for the province to establish a heritage site around luminaries of Mutare people’s history and other fallen heroes.
“We discussed issues to do with heritage sites and Mutare is pregnant with good history. The proposed heritage sites hover around luminaries of Mutare. We are convinced that the Minister of State for Manicaland provincial affairs has started some action towards the proposal,” Chimbira said.
The Tourism Recovery and Growth Strategy is premised on acknowledging the devastating effects that the COVID 19 pandemic has had, nationally and globally, on the fortunes of tourism.
The strategy underscores tourism’s proven resilience and ability to bounce back from a COVID-19 setback. The Government of Zimbabwe through the Ministry of Environment, Climate, Tourism and Hospitality Industry has already put in place a Tourism Support Facility to guarantee financial support for the sector.
The Strategy is also aimed at lifting the tourism sector from the current decline into a $5billion ZWL tourism economy by 2025.
It seeks to among other things provide access to entrepreneurs within the sector and defining the roles that each of the stakeholders should play in fostering recovery and growth of tourism at provincial level.