By Daniel Chigundu
ZIMBABWE Tourism Authority (ZTA) says Zimbabweans in the diaspora have a lot to contribute to the growth of the country’s tourism sector and the economy in general.
About 5 million Zimbabweans are reportedly in the diaspora seeking greener pastures owing to the current economic hardships being faced in the country.
The United Kingdom is believed to have the second biggest number of Zimbabwean diaspora after South Africa and most of them have been failing to make a meaningful contribution to the economy owing to bottlenecks from the previous establishment.
However, addressing the Huntingdon District Council which happen to have some Zimbabweans on it, ZTA chief executive Dr Karikoga Kaseke said diasporans have a lot to contribute to the country especially in the new dispensation.
“We decided to reach out to the diasporans to see how best we can work together for the benefit of the new Zimbabwe in this new dispensation as we know they have a lot to contribute to the Zimbabwean economy.
“In the wake of this new era, the skills gap that was created by the brain drain has to be filled and we are indeed open for business in terms of foreign investment,” he said.
Dr Kaseke added that “with the prospects of re-joining the Commonwealth, we believe that such relations will flourish and both Zimbabwe and Huntingdon and the UK in general stand to benefit from the union. Tourism stand to benefit immensely from such developments as the UK is a very critical market for us,” said the ZTA boss.
Speaking at the same meeting, Huntingdon District Council chairman Councillor Patrick Kadewere said “we are thankful for the new government and we really see that there is a shift in Zimbabwe because previously we were not given an ear.
“We would like to partner with Zimbabwe and see areas of cooperation between us. We would even want to twin our town with a town in Zimbabwe that has a common interest and focus on areas of cooperation,” he said.
Mrs Killiana who runs a travel agent called Zimconnect in the UK said the decision to engage with the diaspora is a clear indication that Zimbabwe is indeed open for business and government is living its mantra.
“We are thankful to the ZTA for coming to us and listening to us, we would like to boost tourism by increasing the travel of the diasporans back home.
“This is an emotional moment for us as we are seeing that indeed the government is living its mantra ‘Zimbabwe is open for business’. It was not so in the past as my fellow diasporans business colleagues in various fields have always hit a brick wall every time they approached the government with brilliant ideas.
“Those ideas were never embraced and died a natural death but now we are saying it’s the time to rehash those dreams and bring them home,” she said.
Huntingdon is a town in Cambridgeshire, England, quite with history and is well known as the birthplace of Oliver Cromwell, who was the first Lord Protector of the Commonwealth of England, Scotland and Ireland.