By Daniel Chigundu
ZIMBABWE Council of Tourism (ZCT) chief executive Paul Matamisa has called on government to increase budgetary allocation to Zimbabwe Tourism Authority (ZTA) so that it can effectively market the country in the Eastern markets.
ZTA was only allocated US$470 000 from the 2016 National Budget, on the basis that it gets 2 percent in the form of Tourism Levy from every tourism related transaction that happens in the country.
However the levy has not been enough to finance the enormous destination marketing task that ZTA has to undertake in trying to attract more tourists to the country.
Addressing the media recently Matamisa said Eastern market provides a lucrative outbound tourists market and that with enough resources to ZTA the country can benefit greatly.
“What I would like to say is that in the future when we are looking at our tourism, we must look at the trends that are happening around the market. The East is where most tourists are coming from especially from China.
“And there are also a lot of tourists coming from India and if we put our efforts together and work on the Eastern markets to try and achieve our targets and our goals in terms of marketing development, we will certainly do well.
“I think it’s only a matter of resources in those areas and one thing I will not stop talking about is actually the funding of ZTA. I have always said ZTA requires more than 2 percent; it’s not adequate for marketing development, let alone to cover administration costs that they have.
“It is our contention that countries that are doing well, countries that we are emulating around us, we just have to look at money coming from budget efforts and this is what we want for ZTA to be successful.
“For them to be successful we have to adequately fund them, they must have a sizeable allocation. I was recently looking at Kenya, they have put US$40 million into the authority like ZTA, for marketing of that destination, but here we have put nothing, not even a million, only US$470 000.
“What can you do with that, you can’t do anything, not even pay fares for the trips they undertake and so on? We are simply saying government should really put sufficient funds to ZTA so that they can do a fine job for us,” said the ZCT boss.
ZTA chief executive Karikoga Kaseke concurred with Matamisa adding that his task of leading the country’s tourism marketing through ZTA is like driving a car without a steering wheel because of inadequate funding.
“Like I always say you don’t need to be given a car by your authority and told to drive that car and you find that the car does not have a steering wheel.
“That is the job of a chief executive of ZTA, you are supposed to drive a car without a steering wheel and that is the sad thing about it,” Kaseke said.
Tourism is one of ZimAsset’s quick wins, and is recognised as one of the pillars anchoring Zimbabwe’s economic recovery and growth.
According to ZTA forecasts, tourist arrivals are projected to increase to 2.5 million in 2016, benefiting from vigorous destination marketing and promotion activities targeted at the international, as well as the domestic market.
However the increase should also be supported by such initiatives as ensuring destination competitiveness, development of new tourism products and investing in Brand Zimbabwe Promotion, among other initiatives.
Meanwhile, Tourists arrivals in the first quarter of 2016 increased by 16 percent from 387 557 recorded in 2015 to 450 572 in 2016.
The 2016 first quarter tourism performance overview also showed 157 percent increase from Asian tourists to Zimbabwe from 5 441 in 2015 to 14 004 in 2016, driven by South Korea which recorded an 358 percent increase to 3 422 tourists arrivals.
Other overseas source markets stood as follows America 120, Europe 28, and Middle East 1percent increase while Oceania was 17 percent downwards.
And in an effort to understand the Eastern market more, ZTA is set to host the first ever China Africa Tourism Conference in March next year in Victoria Falls.
About 1500 delegates from China and Africa are expected to attend the conference.