By Shingirai Vambe
ONE of the seven wonders of the world, the thunder that roars, Mosi oa’ Tunya, the majestic Victoria Falls nestles in the Zambezi valley in a country that seeks to regain lost lustre.
Zimbabwe takes the optimistic route to promote tourist arrivals in the midst of global economic challenges requiring more innovative ways, amidst a global storm from a pandemic.
Having the big five, coupled with great scenery from mountains and forests with a Mediterranean type of climate, housing various species, flora and fauna, the country looks set to bear fruits from both the hospitality and tourism industry’s robust settings.
Tourism, having been led for a lengthy period by former Chief Executive, Karikoga Kaseke, the industry was in the verge of attracting more, not only in the tourism industry, but more economic investors who saw various opportunities in Zimbabwe through the Sanganai/Hlanganani Tourism Expo. This extravaganza offered low hanging fruits.
The Expos brought in buyers from around the world, bringing in new ideas after showcasing the available resources and enjoying the hospitality of the people of Zimbabwe in various facilities in the Bulawayo, Manicaland, Masvingo, Victoria Falls to mention just a few.
Key stakeholders in Africa welcomed the connoisseur’s tourism approach which opened more doors making money for both locals and tourists.
Due to Climate Change, the raging global pandemic, many nations went onto their knees.
Currently, some are trying to recover, while trying to stand and walk again, the Russian war against Ukraine has changed the prospects of any business structure across the world with prices of goods and services going up daily.
The innovative tools to market Zimbabwe are hence required as opportunities lie in challenges.
Since Kaseke left the tourism authority on medical grounds the Authority has failed to attract meaningful business regardless of the effort put by individuals within the organisation to keep afloat.
A new CEO came on board, Rita Likukuma, who also had little knowledge and understanding of the industry, until she was sacked under unclear circumstances though little birds whistled the procedural retrenchment of staff though her removal was followed by an excuse of abiding with the corporate governance rules and regulations as prescribed.
Givemore Chidzidzi took over the reins from Likukuma and has been acting since.
Little progress, has however, been noticed, not sure if it’s due to acting capacity or potential from his experience having been in the field for long.
Wth the cleaning process at the ZTA not started as yet, a number of programmes and projects have been commissioned with the current minister of Environment, Climate, Tourism and Hospitality Industry, Mangaliso Ndlovu driving his ship with the thrust of making Zimbabwe great again.
Ndlovu has managed to keep the candle burning as in the days of former Minister Walter Mzembi who was very ambitious and enthusiastic, made sure the Tourism Industry got on the lime light.
The demotivating factor of politic-economic situation has seen few players coming on board as local tourism still is on the cleft of the shadow of death, as salaries remain stagnant, below the poverty datum line without disposable income to talk of.
Hence domestic tourism is low.
Having experienced the hype of activities in yester-years, Chidzidzi proved otherwise, maintained the solo of the pandemic out of fear, acting capacity or probably lack of innovation. The song went on and on, and the time is now with prospects that in few days there is going to be a paradigm shift that will probably see changes in ZTA, tourism and hospitality industry in Zimbabwe.
Having run successful Zimbabwe International Trade fairs for the past two years, ZTA wasted an opportunity to look through the lenses of tourism and hospitality where business people travel from across the country, Africa and the world to trade in Bulawayo.
Jobs were lost and hotel industries are facing running cost challenges, with the ZTA failing to push for the fund which was earlier talked about by the Government to assist players in the industry. The pandemic was the first of its scale in a new era of interconnectedness to put over 100 million jobs at risk across the globe.
Tourism dependent countries, Zimbabwe amongst them all felt the negative impact of the crisis for much longer than other economies.
2023 is the year of recovery, new things, new structures and new thinking. The crisis has crystalized the importance of tourism as a development pathway for many countries to decrease poverty and improve their economies.
In Sab-Saharan Africa, the development of tourism has been a key driver in closing the gap between poor and rich countries, with tourism-dependent countries averaging real per capita GDP growth of 3 percent between 1995 and 2020, according to the International Monetary Fund report.
Few weeks ago, the nation saw players in the air transport sector coming on board to service the European space straight to Victoria Falls, a move towards a positive trajectory towards the 2025 world tourism goal of connecting to the world.
Zimbabwe is a true house of stones, it can not fall.
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