Power, water cuts strain tourism sector

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GOVERNMENT should urgently intervene to protect the tourism industry from negative effects of incessant power cuts and water shortages so as to attract more tourists and earn more foreign currency for the country.

This came out during deliberations at the 2019 pre budget seminar, which ends here today. Members of Parliament urged Government to exempt tourism resort areas, particularly Victoria Falls, from power cuts so that the destination has constant water and power supply.

Buhera South MP Joseph Chinotimba expressed concern that some tourists now prefer to go to Livingstone in Zambia because of lack of reliable water and electricity supply in the country’s prime resort town.

He also criticised numerous Statutory Instruments and licences for the industry, which make the resort destination more expensive compared to others in the region.

In response, Acting Minister of Environment, Tourism and Hospitality Industry, Mangaliso Ndlovu said Government was aware of the issues raised and efforts were being made to take corrective measures.

Minister Ndlovu said Government was concerned about the three percent decline in arrivals recorded in tourism during the first quarter of 2019 where about 1,5 million tourists visited, making a nine percent revenue dip from $454 million to $421 million.

“We need to invest in tourism so we earn foreign currency and we can do this by capacitating tourism players. Government is serious about ease of doing business and the ministry will look at all instruments and harmonise them because this is what creates a number of bureaucratic tendencies, which we can do away with,” said Ndlovu.

He said Government was prioritising renewable energy for Victoria Falls so that the town is guaranteed power and water all the time.

Tourism industry operators are concerned that there are about 30 licences to be acquired for one to operate in the sector.

Minister Ndlovu said the Zimbabwe Tourism Authority (ZTA) must be adequately funded to be able to market the country.

He also said Zimparks needs more support to properly maintain and protect wildlife, which is the cornerstone for the country’s tourism.

On concerns about tax rebates and difficulties in procurement of goods and material by tourism players, Minister Ndlovu said:

“It takes six months for procured goods to be delivered and already the term of SI will have expired. This is why the sector is calling for a five-year term of SI so that they benefit by having enough time to acquire and wait to receive the goods”.

The SIs from Treasury will in most cases be between six and 12 months. Minister Ndlovu challenged every Zimbabwean to be the country’s tourism ambassador.

“Let’s consider all of us wearing the jacket of brand Zimbabwe because tourism benefits from how we market our country,” he said.

Minister Ndlovu called on the country’s financial institutions to review the tourism revolving fund, which is lying idle at the Reserve Bank and make it attractive to businesses. — chroncile.co.zw

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