THE tourism sector is on course to contribute 15 percent towards the national Gross Domestic Product by 2014, the Ministry of Tourism and Hospitality Industry has said. Deputy director of the tourism directorate in the Ministry of Tourism and Hospitality Industry Mr Douglas Mavhembu expressed optimism that Zimbabwe would be able to meet the set target as result of the number of platforms that have been set.
“We still believe that we can meet the target of 15 percent because we are currently at 6.5 percent. Come 2014 we should have reached the 15 percent mark. “We got a lot of benefits from the 2010 World Cup that was held in South Africa.
“A lot of tourists came to Zimbabwe and there are a lot of activities that are going on in Victoria Falls, for instance,” he said. Mr Mavhembu added that of the funds allocated to the ministry in the 2010 national budget, they had only received US$400 000, which was not enough for them to do a total refurbishment of the sector.
The funds are inadequate hence they have started to look for other means that can help sustain the tourism sector until the next budget. Mr Mavhembu appealed to the private sector to contribute to the development of the economy by marketing Zimbabwe as a safe tourist destination.
Currently the tourism sector is facing a number of challenges especially limited financial resources to improve the product that is available. Zimbabwe Tourism Association spokesperson Mr Sugar Chagonda said: “We are promoting Zimbabwe as a MICE (Meeting-Incentives-Conference-Exhibition) destination, which is capable of holding international conference meetings and exhibitions.
“Zimbabwe participates in five major shows that are held throughout the year. “These are the Indaba Expo in South Africa in May, International Tourism Bourse in Germany in November, China International Travel Mart in China in November, Japan Association of Travel Agents in September, and the World Travel Market in London in November.
“All of these are to market Zimbabwe as a safe tourist destination and to attract foreign investors.” Mr Chagonda said that the Celebrity Host Programme was also a marketing tool to change the negative perception of Zimbabwe and an image builder. Zimbabwe is currently chairing the Regional Tourism Organisation of Southern Africa, and is set to host the prestigious 2011 Integrated Resorts Tourism Conference.