AfricaTravel & VacationsZimbabwe

Tourism growth: rural service centres take shape

By Almot Maqolo

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Environment, Climate, Tourism and Hospitality Industry Mangaliso Ndhlovu on Monday urged Zimbabweans at home and abroad to take up investment opportunities in rural service centres and position themselves for imminent growth and development. Speaking at the occasion of the World Tourism Day Celebrations 2020 at Chinhoyi University of Technology, Ndhlovu said the Government has begun to work on the identified nodes that will drive the growth of the Tourism sector.

These include the approval of the Victoria Falls-Binga Special Economic Zone by Cabinet, which will see ten nodes in this Special Economic Zone developed. Government is also scaling up development of integrated tourism resorts in the Masuwe area, a new resort in Binga and an eco-Tourism Park in Sijarira Forest. The proposed development in Binga includes the upgrading of the airport to improve accessibility in this resort.

“In addition, a new tourism resort will be opened in Batoka area, where the Government has since demarcated land for tourism development, in addition to plans to establish a new hydropower station,” Ndhlovu said The Environment, Climate, Tourism and Hospitality Industry marked this years’ World Tourism Day Celebrations, by handing over the Kore Kore Cultural Village, to the Makonde community. “The Kore Kore Cultural Village was funded by the Zimbabwe Tourism Authority as part of the Ministry’s 100 Day projects.

This development is in line with this year’s theme of ‘Tourism and Rural Development’, which underlies the unique role that tourism plays in preserving cultural and natural heritage and providing livelihoods opportunities outside urban settlements. I want to express my sincere and unqualified gratitude to the ZTA for this initiative which I believe is set to transform this province,” Ndhlovu said. “I hope the Kore Kore Cultural Village will feature prominently on the map of future tours to Chinhoyi along the triangular movement of visits to Chinhoyi Caves, and the Chinhoyi Seven Memorial Park.”<

Meanwhile, Ndhlovu urged enhanced collaboration between the public and private sector, to stimulate travel demand in the local, regional and international source markets. Monday’s celebrations were held under the theme “Tourism and Rural Development.” The event afforded academics at Chinhoyi University of Technology an opportunity to input into the national tourism discourse through candid and robust research papers.

Ndhlovu assured the academic community that their presentations will go a long way in informing innovative policy ideas and solutions for the betterment of the tourism industry. Most tourism players throughout the country have now re-opened their facilities in strict compliance with the Covid-19 Health Protocols. “While initial assessments we have carried out through the Zimbabwe Tourism Authority, indicate that occupancy rates in most hotels are still low, I remain hopeful that the situation will improve and the numbers will pick up,” Ndhlovu said.

“In this regard I urge the players in the sector to come up with tourism packages that are affordable to the locals and tap into the domestic market which clearly are ranging between 10-15%, with most resort hotels still to pick up due to subdued demand.” Prospects for a rebound are on the horizon, more so given the decision by the Government to allow intercity travel to resume. “We are also encouraged by the opening domestic and international flights. We expect to see a gradual improvement in hotel occupancies going forward,” Ndhlovu said.

“In order to save and secure jobs we need to enhance collaboration between the public and the private sector, to stimulate travel demand in the local, regional and international source markets. I therefore make a clarion call to the tourism industry to come up with more packages and incentives to help stimulate tourism demand under this difficult period.”

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