Zimbabwe needs to revamp infrastructure in the tourism industry if the sector is to reach its full potential and play a significant role towards the attainment of Vision 2030, president of the Safari Operators Association of Zimbabwe (SOAZ) Emmanuel Fundira has said.
With tourist arrivals estimated at a record 2,7 million and receipts at US$1 billion this year, the tourism sector has registered positive growth on the back of re-engagements efforts of the new dispensation led by President Mnangagwa. President Mnangagwa’s administration Vision 2030 target is to transform Zimbabwe, already a lower middle class country, into an upper middle class economy with per capita income of $3 500 and above.
With further growth prospects envisaged for the sector driven by interventions in the tourism master plan, expected to steer the tourism sector up to 2035, there are fears the country’s infrastructure could fail to copy with the numbers anticipated.
Environment, Tourism and Hospitality Industry Minister Prisca Mupfumira, has already highlighted that projections for tourist arrivals will rise to over 3,5 million in 2019 and further up to 6 million in 2025.
In an interview with this publication, Mr Fundira said growth in the sector to record levels since 1999 was a result of the new dispensation’s efforts but this will result in more pressure on the available infrastructure that may fail to copy.
“The (positive) results we see today are an accumulation of the work done over the years, which has been anchored by a peaceful and friendly environment ushered in by the second Republic buttressed by a well-crafted message ‘Zim is open for business’,” said Mr Fundira.
“There is, however, an urgent need to focus on infrastructural development in particular the triple A’s (Access, Accommodation and Activities) and urgent (needs to) work on the major road network to facilitate self-drive tourists from the region.
“Already, Zimbabwe has an accommodation stock of about 15 000 registered rooms and only 2 500 of that in Victoria Falls area and clearly you can see that there is need to increase room capacity by 100 percent to 30 000 registered rooms to reach the desired levels by 2023,” he said.
Mr Fundira said tourism, which at its peak used to account for 150 000 direct jobs, had the potential to be one of the key pillars on which economic revival can be anchored on.
Speaking at the launch of the tourism master plan in May, Vice President Chiwenga said Government will continue to explore strategies to grow the sector to its potential as the economy gears for growth towards Vision 2030 by which Zimbabwe should be an upper middle-income earning economy.
“Tourism by its pervasive nature plays a significant role in the economics of most countries,” said VP Chiwenga then.
“The tourism sector is on a rising trajectory and prospects for more growth in the future are very positive. All this is happening on the backdrop of the peaceful transition of the new dispensation led by His Excellency Cde Mnangagwa which has totally changed the image and perception of Zimbabwe, from a country perceived to be at war with itself to an exceptionally safe and peaceful country,” he said.–herald.co.zw