By Staff Reporter
ACTING President Kembo Mohadi has applauded efforts being made in the tourism sector particularly in Victoria Falls which was designated as a special economic zone.
The tourism sector has been on an upward trend in terms of arrivals and attraction of foreign direct investment since the coming in of the new dispensation last year.
There are also prospects that the sector will continue to grow going forward as the government continues to remove the bottlenecks that have been stifling the smooth operations.
According to economists, tourism is arguably Zimbabwe’s low hanging fruit with quick wins in terms of economic recovery efforts.
Addressing delegates at the official opening of the Tourism Business Council of Zimbabwe (TBCZ) 2018 Tourism Convention in Victoria Falls, Acting President Mohadi said he is pleased with the growth as tourism is the engine for economic development.
“It is pleasing to note that the tourism industry continues to recover as demonstrated by a total of 2,422,930 tourist arrivals in 2017, which represents a 12 per cent increase from the 2,167,686 tourist arrivals in 2016. Here in Victoria Falls alone, occupancy for January to February 2018 also indicated a 22 per cent and 24 per cent increase respectively.
“I am also pleased to note that revenue in Victoria Falls is up by 20 per cent while 18 new properties have been developed to date and among them are the Zambezi Island Lodge, River Brewery, Old Drift Lodge, Great Plains Lodge, Nguni Boutique Lodge, and Mbano Manor Lodge.
“Ilala Lodge has added 18 additional rooms and other properties such as the Victoria Falls Safari Club have been newly refurbished.
“The positive effects of tourism in this country’s economy should include the growth and development of various industries directly linked to a healthy tourism industry, such as transportation, construction, wildlife, creative and cultural industries. The communities and the peoples who are at the tourist attractions should also be transformed,” he said.
The Acting President added that he is convinced that if the country takes full advantage of the digital opportunities and use them in marketing the tourist destinations the current figures of arrivals can be surpassed.
Mohadi also highlighted that the government is committed to supporting the tourism sector as it is a key sector in the economy.
“My government is committed to supporting the tourism sector in every way it can and work in collaboration with all stakeholders to unlock its full potential.
“We regard tourism as an engine for economic development. Tourism is one of the four pillars of our economy among agriculture, mining and the manufacturing sector,” he said.