By Daniel Chigundu
PARLIAMENTARY Portfolio Committee on Environment, Water and Tourism has called on Finance Minister Patrick Chinamasa to allocate more funds for the hosting of Sanganai/Hlanganani Travel Expo and the Harare International Carnival.
Sanganai/Hlanganani and Carnival are part of the Zimbabwe Tourism Authority (ZTA) destination marketing activities and have the potential to bring millions of tourists to the country combined.
Last year Minister Chinamasa told delegates Sanganai/Hlanganani in Bulawayo last year that he was going to adequately fund the tourism sector because of its vast potentials that bring instant returns to the country.
However, when the 2018 national budget was presented, tourism was among the least prioritised sectors despite being high impact economic activity contributing 3.5% of GDP in 2017 with the potential to contribute up to 10% of the country’s GDP if meaningful financial support is availed.
Presenting the committee report during the 2018 proposed Finance Bill debate in the National Assembly, Proportional Representation member Yeukai Simbanegavi said the funds allocated for destination marketing are not adequate given the enormous task and financial requirements.
“The allocation of destination marketing of US$1,080,000 is inadequate given the huge economic gains realised in 2017. The Committee recommends additional funding for Sanganai/Hlanganani Tourism Expo and the Harare International Carnival,” she said.
According to ZTA chief executive Dr Karikoga Kaseke, Hosting Sanganai/Hlanganani requires about US$550 000 while the Carnival needs anything around US$450 000 and availability of more funding could help make the events even bigger and more effective.
Gross under-funding of co-activities such as destination marketing and absence in major outbound tourist source markets as China have adversely affected tourism receipts in the past.
Honourable Simbanegavi also urged Treasury to allocate more funding to ZTA for Zimbabwe National Convention Bureau (ZNCB) programmes such as the Meeting Incentives Conference and Exhibition (MICE) tourism in Zimbabwe, adding hosting such big conferences bring in a lot of foreign currency to the country.
In its budget proposal to government ZTA had wanted about US$1,755,000 for ZNCB programs.
Tourism is a low hanging fruit which when funded adequately will bring significant socio-economic benefits downstream of the economic value chain.
Zimbabwe has several heritage sites that the country can use to help boost its economy by developing the tourism sector.
According to the committee, sectors that are driving the economy must be allocated more resources.
Honourable Simbanegavi added that if tourism is to develop, a marked commitment in the funding of the Ministry and its implementing arm should be sustained.