By Daniel Chigundu
ZIMBABWE Tourism Authority (ZTA) chief executive Dr Karikoga Kaseke says contrary to what most people think, tourism drives many sectors in the economy and deserves a better share of the national budget.
Despite requiring about US$17 615 400 to effectively implement its various programs that will help drive tourism, ZTA only got about US$830 000 from the 2017 budget.
Appearing before a Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Environment, Water, Tourism and Hospitality Industry, Dr Kaseke said hotels which many people refer to as tourism are just a distant fraction in the tourism value chain, adding that everything else is tourism.
“When you have travelled to your destination either by road or by air you then look for accommodation in your destination and at times at your arrival you need to hire a car, there are a lot of car rentals, food and beverages and these stimulate activities in other downstream sectors.
“When you talk about accommodation sector, the stimulation that tourism induces in other sectors, like agriculture, vegetables, meat and bread. How many loaves of bread does the tourism sector consume in Zimbabwe on a yearly basis?
“At Rainbow Towers Hotel they consume on a daily basis 300 loaves of bread and if we look at other institutions outside Rainbow, how many loaves of bread the tourism industry consumes on a daily basis, we are talking here about millions of bread per annum.
“I am just trying to show the impact of tourism and how it affects other sectors and we talk about manufacturing, how many beds do we have at Rainbow Towers, it is a 300 roomed hotel and each room has got a bed, some have double beds and we talked about one hotel, look at other hotels and lodges, look at what is happening that is what we are saying tourism at work,” he said.
Dr Kaseke said that many sectors of the economy exist because of tourism, adding that airlines and suitcases manufacturers, for example, are in business because they are part of the tourism value chain.
“So basically this is the value chain of tourism and you can see what tourism does to an economy, if you see these things then you are looking at tourism so don’t look at tourism as hotels only it can never be that, hotels are a one faction one small factor in the tourism industry, so tourism industry is quite huge, they say it’s like an elephant,” Dr Kaseke said.
The ZTA boss said tourism employs about 180 000 people directly and indirectly adding that it accounts for 30 percent of formal employment in the country.
The tourism board has plans to increase the tourism contribution to employment in the country to about 350 000 by 2025 as part of its vision.
According to Former Finance Minister Patrick Chinamasa, there are only 500 000 people who are still in formal employment in Zimbabwe, adding that the rest are now in the informal sector.
In 2016 the tourism sector contributed US$310 million in income tax to government, while attracting about US$100 million in foreign direct investment.