Funding shortage stalls tourism audit

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AN AUDIT to identify roles that are duplicated in Government’s Ministry of Tourism and Hospitality Industry and the Zimbabwe Tourism Authority (ZTA), is stalling due to lack of funding, it has emerged.

If funded to the tune of $65 000, the priority exercise will be complete within a month, Ministry of Tourism and Hospitality Industry permanent secretary Dr Thokozile Chitepo, told a Parliamentary portfolio committee yesterday. The move is expected to streamline wage costs for the sector and create a seamless regulatory and supervisory environment for the tourism industry, amid indications of confusion that has been costing operators.

On completion, high ranking officials in the ministry and State enterprise as well as other junior staffers could lose their jobs. Responding to questions from the Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Tourism, Environment, Water and climate, Dr Chitepo said the programme was underway.

“We are undertaking the exercise. We need $65 000, if we get the funding it should be done before end of this month. We have worked on terms of reference,” Dr Chitepo said adding there was confusion stemming from the duplication of roles. She said the minister was expecting to receive communication from Treasury regarding funding by end of day yesterday, adding Government had engaged the United Nations and the private sector for advise in the process.

“Its top on the agenda and we need to do it,” Dr Chitepo added. Information gathered by The Herald Business suggests the confusion in terms of roles between the ministry and ZTA is a result of delays by Government to set up the Ministry of Tourism as a standalone ministry.

Although the ZTA was established by an Act of Parliament in 1996 to market the country, The Ministry of Tourism only became a standalone unit in 2009. Previously it had been bundled with environment.

Tourism is one of Zimbabwe’s major foreign currency earners, contributing as much as $819 million in foreign receipts in 2016, up from $200 million in 2005. The sector is estimated to have created 300 000 jobs to communities around the country. However, funding remains a challenge for the sector with Treasury only allocating 19 percent of the ministry’s $30,7 million bid in the 2018 national Budget.

“As a sector we have no alternative funding from development and cooperating partners and this has limited us,” Dr Chitepo said, adding key programmes could fail to take off in the current year due to funding constraints.

ZTA CEO Dr Karikoga Kaseke said the authority had a budget deficit of $10 million in 2018. The ZTA requires funding to market Zimbabwe on major international tourism conventions and ensure physical presence of agents in key areas around the world.–herald

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