Zimbabwe’s tourism industry is set for a rebound as arrivals mainly from traditional markets are expected to hit the three million mark by 2020, a development that will see over 300 000 jobs being created in the sector.
There is renewed hope from the country’s traditional markets and last December alone Spain sent nine tour operators and Britain 27 to scout for business after President Emmerson Mnangagwa in his inaugural speech said Zimbabwe was open for investment.
Markets already warming up to Zimbabwe include Germany, United Kingdom, France, Belgium, Netherlands and Luxemburg among others.
It is against this demand that Zimbabwe needs to construct more hotels in major tourist attraction centers including Harare, the Eastern Highlands and Victoria Falls among others to accommodate the “volcanic like eruption” expected in the sector.
The Zimbabwe Tourism Authority (ZTA) chief executive Karikonga Kaseke, on Wednesday said all systems in the sector should ready themselves for the boom.
“Let’s look at employment creation. We project by 2020 tourists arrivals will hit three million. Every nine tourists create one job. Three million divided by nine will give 330 000 jobs and these are direct jobs.
“…And one job in the tourism sector creates one and half jobs downstream. If you multiply 330 000 by one and half you will get the number of jobs to be created as a result of the tourism boom. When there is boom in tourism, we need more people to supply televisions, beds, linen and food among many other consumables. Any nation that cherishes self takes tourism seriously and Governments that create jobs retain power,” he said.
Tourism came after agriculture in job creation, Dr Kaseke said, adding the sector created quality jobs.
He said tourism was the country’s low hanging fruit with potential to provide quick wins, adding he was glad Finance and Economic Planning Minister Patrick Chinamasa understood the need for quick recovery of the sector. Dr Kaseke said the envisaged tourism boom called for the construction of more hotels in major centres as the country was “underhoteled”.
“The number of rooms that we have will be nothing given the demand we are going to experience in the next two to three years. We need to increase the number of rooms. In Harare we need 1000 rooms, that means we have to build three 300 roomed hotels. In Victoria Falls we need 2000 rooms more, that is six or more 300 roomed hotels and 500 rooms in the Eastern Highlands. Tourism is going to boom like a volcanic eruption.”
He said with the projected three million arrivals by 2020, the sector had potential to generate millions in foreign currency.
“Apart from creating thousands of jobs, the sector brings in new money in the economy. When we receive three million tourists, they bring new money in foreign currency. I am happy because the new Government is alert and alive to that,” he said.
Dr Kaseke said domestic tourists should also be saluted as they kept the sector moving at a time when the number of foreign tourists dwindled due to a plethora of factors.
“The people did not like the former Head of State President Mugabe. The tourists were saying by coming to Zimbabwe we will be aiding the perpetuity and longevity of Mugabe’s stay in power. They did not like that. They would tell me point blank, (Walter) Mzembi (former Minister of Tourism and Hospitality Industry) knows that. But we continued marketing the country around the President but we were hitting a brick wall. Banning of the foreign media, police road blocks all affected the package and tourists did not like it,” he said.
He said some of the problems affecting the country’s image promotion were still on the ground adding the new Government was supposed to deal with them forthwith.
“Government should deal with the cash problem. Our ATMs should dispense money. If you go to Zambia or Nigeria today, you access money in their currency on ATMs. The same should happen here,” he said.