Zim must develop domestic tourism, says Mzembi

TOURISM minister Walter Mzembi says there’s need to develop domestic tourism as part of strategies to boost the economy.
Addressing a press conference this week, Mzembi said Zimbabwe must not depend on international tourists alone to grow the industry.

“Masvingo has never had an absolute occupancy of its hotels and lodges as happened during the last weekend when the city hosted President Robert Mugabe’s 92nd birthday celebrations.
“We have been basically registering between 10 to 25 percent occupancy of the hotels and lodges in the city and in the areas surround Masvingo,” he said.

“So when you do a cost-benefit analysis of what we came out with, particularly the Masvingo community, they are very pleased and besides themselves with how this event proceeded because it occupied their hotels absolutely to a point which they can hardly forget,” he added.

Zimbabwe’s domestic tourism has over the past few years been suffocated due to deteriorating economic conditions resulting in most tourism players expending their energies in attracting high-spending international tourists.

However, research has shown that domestic tourism is a key component that could sustain the economy through job creation.
This is because local tourists are available throughout the year to travel and spend money within their countries without being disturbed by external threats.

The Tourism minister noted that frequenting hosting of domestic events drives and stimulates economic activities.
“It was instructive to an extent that we were able to drive tourism this weekend (last weekend) with a domestic event.

“Tourism must do more on developing domestic tourism concepts that we should not over-rely on international or regional tourism because if the variables change as has been with the case of a depression of a rand against the US dollar then our assets go absolutely unoccupied,” Mzembi said.

He added that continental barriers were also hindering a good business relationship within Africa.
Speaking at the same conference, Ghanaian artist Blakk Rasta said Zimbabweans must do more to market their country.
“Zimbabwe is full of wonderful places, l don’t see why Zimbabweans should not take a lot of income from tourism alone since you have all it takes. In our small way we will also push the agenda and bring the world over to see some of the great wonders of the world,” he said.—Kudzai Chipamuriwo

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