By Daniel Chigundu
TOURISM and Hospitality Industry Minister Walter Mzembi says if tourism is managed well it has the potential to grow the economy and help to reduce the high levels of unemployment in the country.
The unemployment rate in Zimbabwe is said to be hovering around 85 to 90 percent, with Finance Minister Patrick Chinamasa saying that only half a million people are in the formal employment.
According to economists, tourism is one of the low hanging fruits that the country can take advantage of to shrug off the current economic challenges as it has instant results.
In a speech read on his behalf at the World Tourism Day celebrations, Minister Mzembi said good tourism policy should aim at inclusive participation and accessibility by all citizens in the country.
“10 percent of the world gross domestic product is attributed to tourism, tourism means big business, what it means is that if we manage the tourism sector well, we create jobs and opportunities and we can grow faster economically.
“We can include more people, we can make people feel at home in the country and at the same time protect and promote our natural resources all at the same time if we decide ourselves that we want to promote tourism in Zimbabwe.
“Good tourism policy should be community-centric and aimed at inclusive participation, and accessibility by all citizens in tourism facilities and utilities. That simply means the rights of all people disabled and disadvantaged are looked at in giving tourism licences so that we can be sure the buildings used for tourism facilities, recreation areas are welcome for all people in the country,” he said.
Mzembi added that community ownership is important in sustainable tourism and that his ministry has already started working with communities in both rural and urban areas.
“The ministry has started working with communities in urban and rural areas to make sure we can start more community owned and operated facilities, they are called community-owned tourism enterprises, this will undoubtedly foster conservation of the environment and growth.
“Tourism in Zimbabwe has become a conspicuous pillar of our economy, a passport to prosperity and a transformative force to improve our lives,” he said.
2017 was adopted by the United Nations as the International year of sustainable tourism development and this year’s World Tourism Day was commemorated under the theme “sustainable tourism-a tool for development.
The campaign which is consumer-oriented is aimed at raising awareness of the value and contribution that sustainable tourism can make towards development.
Meanwhile, the government has said it is now time to promote domestic tourism in the country.
“Domestic tourism is what we want to promote just as much we want to promote international tourism, we want to know are you satisfied, are people satisfied when they come here, do we welcome them, do we give them food that makes them feel they have tasted something different, something that is indigenous, most importantly, we will they come back?
“When people have visited a place whether international or domestic the big question is will that person come back to visit again and they will come back if the experience was good and they will come back, stay in hotels eat good food, use transport and all the things that go into tourism,” said government.