THE year 2013 became a turning point in Zimbabwe’s policy making circles as the Government adopted a new Constitution as well as other policies. This brings to the question whether the Government put cultural tourism into consideration.
There is no direct policy which points directly at cultural tourism. But putting in consideration that there came a tourism policy as well as a culture policy could sooth one’s mind that cultural tourism in Zimbabwe might be in safe hands.
Starting with the Tourism Policy which was launched in 2014, the country sought to attract an increase in tourism contribution to the GDP (Gross Domestic Product).
By the time of its launch, the tourism sector had contributed US$749 million to the GDP in 2013 and the focus was to grow it to US$1.8 billion by the year 2015.
The focus was to make a 5% increase from 10% in 2013 to 15% in 2015. The policy aimed at increasing Zimbabwe’s tourist arrivals from 2.5 million in 2013 to 3.2 million by 2015.
Zimbabwe also subscribed to Africa’s Agenda 2063 which aims at celebrating African culture throughout the continent and abroad. Does the Agenda have something on cultural tourism?
Clause 67 (k) of the Agenda 2063 looked at the introduction of “an African passport issued by Member states, capitalising on the global migration towards e-passports, and with the abolishment of visa requirements for all African citizens in all African countries by 2018.”
Zimbabwe also campaigned for the scrapping of visas at regional and international level.
Clause 4.4 of the tourism policy on Immigration control and visa regime system stated that it “will promote the promulgation of a Visa Regime that ensures the smooth movement of people at ports of entry and exit, and supports the engagement of emerging markets such as the BRICS [Brazil, Russia, India and China] countries.”
It further stated that: “The government will lobby for the implementation of the SADC UNIVISA System to promote seamless cross-border tourism within the region.”
What it all meant was that, if member states had met their e-passport obligations, Zimbabwe might have expected a boost in regional tourist arrivals due to cultural exchange and religious based travels.
Zimbabwe’s situation received a dent when South Africa’s visa regulations required all children under the age of 18 to produce, in addition to their passports, an Unabridged Birth Certificate showing both parents’ particulars at all ports of entry to the country.
That policy had a negative effect on the whole of Southern Africa region’s tourism since South Africa is the region’s main entry point. The introduction of a regional UNIVISA system would have alleviated the problem.
Zimbabwe amended the cultural policy of 2007 in 2013. The 2013 culture policy, again, went in line with Africa’s Agenda 2063.
According to Clause 42 of the Africa’s Agenda 2063, the continent is encouraged to market its culture abroad. Part of the Clause reads: “Pan African cultural assets (heritage, folklore, languages, film, music, theatre, literature, festivals, religions and spirituality) will be enhanced. The African creative arts and industries … contribute significantly to self-awareness, well-being and prosperity, and to world culture and heritage.”
One broad aim of the 2013 culture policy encouraged “individuals, groups and communities, state as well as non-state actor institutions to contribute towards safeguarding Zimbabwe’s culture, artistic expression, tangible as well as intangible heritage for posterity.”
The other aim was to support “the convening of cultural festivals and cultural programmes across Zimbabwe.”
As a result, Zimbabwe launched a Culture Week which is observed each May to promote cultural practices and improve understanding and cooperation among people from different cultures. The policy took off well although many urban folks are still to understand this policy.
From 2013, many cultural galas came into existence.
The South Eastern region of Zimbabwe saw The Great Limpopo Cultural Fair of Chiredzi, Machangana Gala, Ndau Festival of the Arts (NDAFA), Mtetwa Wamuka Cultural Symposium and Pace Arts International Cultural Exhibitions (PAICE) of Chipinge coming into life.
In essence, the Government of Zimbabwe has policies that do supporting cultural tourism, indirectly and indirectly. If cultural tourism is something to go by, how can players develop a viable culture industry? The question shall be answered in the forthcoming article.
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