By Tendai Moyo
ZANU PF First Secretary,
H.E President E.D Mnangagwa has launched the National Tourism Recovery and Growth Strategy which will go a long way in reviving the sector.
The sector has suffered immensely since the country embarked on the Land Reform Programme which saw a downturn of tourists arrivals into the country as negative publicity peddled by the bitter white commercial farmers resulted in single percentage digit arrivals.
A rebranding exercise by the country through the Ministry of Tourism saw the destination being called A World of Wonders from the previously coined Africa's Paradise giving a steady growth to the sector and arrivals.
The advent of the Corona Virus has recently impacted negatively on the sector which had begun reaping the benefits of hard work and the rebranding exercise.
Speaking at the launch this morning in Victoria Falls, President Mnangagwa said this strategy and opening of the Victoria Falls Rainforest is commendable.
President Mnangagwa disclosed that he first visited the Falls in 1955.
The 109 day lockdown of the Falls was in response to the Covid 19 pandemic.
The closure of the Falls enabled it to reinvigorate as the Falls are now at record levels.
The tourism growth strategy is anchored on vision 2030 and tourism sector has an important role to play alongside mining, agriculture and manufacturing.
The tourism sector is expected to grow to a USD5bln industry by 2025 requiring investments in accommodation, infrastructure while at the same time creating the much needed jobs.
President Mnangagwa disclosed that Government has created tourism opportunities which will be soon gazetted in Kanyemba and Tokwe-Murkosi.
"Beyond focus on the Victoria Falls Resort, my Government has availed tourism investment opportunities around Tugwi-Mukosi, which will soon be gazetted as a Recreational Park," President Mnangagwa said.
"Kanyemba, Binga and Kariba among other areas have equal tourism investment appeal. Local area tourism development plans will be pursued around numerous water bodies in the country to develop new and exciting tourism products."
The launch of the Victoria Falls Stock Exchange will also benefit the Victoria Falls town and the country at large.
The tourism sector is offered a $zwl500m bailout as part of efforts to cushion the sector from Covid 19.
Government has also exempted the tourism industry from Value Added Tax VAT in respect of local tourists.
President Mnangagwa says Government will continue to fund efforts to reconnect with local, regional and global contacts.
President Mnangagwa urged the Agriculture sector to play a role in the recovery of tourism through provision of fresh produce to tourist outlets.
He added that there is need to "always aim to deliver excellent services as that is what Zimbabwe is acclaimed for."
The National Tourism Recovery and Growth Strategy was born through inclusive consultations.