A plan to develop Victoria Falls as a special economic zone which will encourage the growth of tourism in the country is to be finalised soon, a Government official has said. Speaking to stakeholders in Harare on Thursday, Tourism and Hospitality Industry Minister Priscah Mupfumira said the ministry had a draft plan and hoped to come up with a final development plan next month.
A committee involving all stakeholders has been set up in the ministry to come up with a final draft of the plan through consultations with potential investors, she said.
This comes against the background of the completion by the Ministry of a National Tourism Sector Strategy which aims to help the government come up with ways to boost the country’s tourism industry.
“We have a lot of people who are interested in investing in the Victoria Falls area, we advertised an expression of interest in the paper (newspaper), so that people who are interested in developing in the Victoria Falls area or corridor would come along with their proposals and we’ve had lots of proposals on developing Victoria Falls,” said Minister Mupfumira.
She said the proposals received include building bigger hotels, financial institutions and also the introduction of medical tourism in Victoria Falls.
She noted an increase in tourist arrivals in the country, leading to increased hotel room occupancy ratios.
This, Minister Mupfumira said, showed the lucrative investment potential of the local tourism industry.
“We need much more activities in Kariba for instance, when people go there all they see is the dam wall and then the lake maybe take a boat ride or two (so people should ask themselves) what else can we do to make it interesting,” she said.
Minister Mupfumira said research had also shown that locals could be enticed to visit tourist resorts more if affordable holiday packages could be arranged by players in the industry.
For years, locals have bemoaned the high cost of domestic holidays. – New Ziana.