Tourism: The race to 7 billion

Tinashe Farawo
Guest Columnist

TOURISM has become the lifeblood of many economies across the world.

In fact, research has shown that tourism contributes at least 10 percent of global gross domestic product (GDP), which translates to one in every 10 jobs.

In 2017, the tourism sector earned at least $1,4 trillion in exports globally.

It is figures like these that have seen President Emmerson Mnangagwa taking tourism in Zimbabwe very seriously.

Government efforts have led to the increase in tourism receipts since the coming in of the Second Republic, which brought with it a clean image.

Tourist arrivals in 2017 grew by 12 percent to 2,4 million and this year the figure is expected to surpass the 2,6—million mark.

Tourism receipts also grew by the same margin from $819 million in 2016 to $917 million last year, contributing nearly 7 percent of GDP.

This year, it has already hit $1 billion and is expected to contribute more than 10 percent to the GDP by year—end.  Tourism is indeed a game-changer and big forex earner, together with tobacco and gold.

It also creates employment, and the Zimbabwe Parks and Wildlife Management Authority (Zimparks) plays a critical role in terms of ensuring that Government achieves its target of creating an upper middle-income economy in the next 12 years.

Apart from creating job opportunities, the sector also promotes entrepreneurship, as thousands are involved in crafting artefacts, selling souvenirs and promoting the country’s rich culture.

Government, through the Minister of Environment, Tourism and Hospitality Industry, has already hit the ground running to improve the sector and attract more tourists.

In the past two months, the Minister of Environment, Tourism and Hospitality Industry, Prisca Mupfumira, attended the World Travel Market in London and the 12th edition of the Izmir Tourism Fair in Izmir, Turkey, on a crusade to attract more tourists to the country. In London, the minister received an award, where Zimbabwe was voted as the third must—visit country in the world.

“Take in laidback capital Harare, with its museums, galleries, flea markets and cosmopolitan restaurants. Take a walk on the really wild side in Mana Pools National Park for thrilling, up—close animal encounters.

“Experience the mystique of the world Heritage—listed Great Zimbabwe, an 11th century archaeological site that remains the symbolic heart of the nation. Explore the colonial architecture of Bulawayo, then drop into nearby Matobo National Park, home to rhinos and rock art. Drop by Hwange National Park to witness its massive elephant herd and take in the majestic Victoria Falls at full bore, before grabbing a paddle to tame some Grade V rapids,” reads the award’s citation.

In an effort to promote domestic tourism during the World Tourism Day commemoration, Zimparks allowed free entry to all Zimbabweans at its parks.

The authority is also in the process of reducing entrance fees for locals in a bid to boost domestic tourism, which perennially plays second fiddle to international tourism.

It is important to note that since the coming in of the New Dispensation, there is a 25 percent increase in international arrivals from 566 432 by October 2017 to 706 359 by October 2018.  For local tourists, the figure also rose from 299 647 by October 2017 to 291 235 during the same period, which represents a 27 percent jump.

Although international arrivals enjoy a lion’s share of 59 percent against 41 percent in terms of visitors to national parks, the authority is in the process of putting mechanisms in place to ensure there are more arrivals from the domestic market.

Tinashe Farawo is Zimparks public relations and communications manager.