EDITORIAL COMMENT:Roadblocks undermine tourism

EDITORIAL COMMENT:Roadblocks undermine tourism

Source: EDITORIAL COMMENT:Roadblocks undermine tourism | The Financial Gazette March 9, 2017

A government-sanctioned survey unveiled last week disclosed what may have been in the public domain for a long time: Foreign tourists are befuddled, in fact infuriated by the numerous police roadblocks on the country’s roads.
The survey came hard-on-the-heels of an article carried by this newspaper quoting Tourism and Hospitality Minister, Walter Mzembi, complaining about the impact of roadblocks to the economy in general and the industry in particular.
The Zimbabwe Agenda for Sustainable Socio-Economic Transformation, government’s current economic blueprint, clearly identified tourism as a pillar for the country’s economic revival. In fact, tourism was identified by government as a “quick-win” pillar to the economic revival strategy.
Yet we are evidently destroying the very same enterprise we expect to anchor economic revival through the senseless roadblocks that have been a huge irritant not only to foreign tourists, but to Zimbabweans who now abhor travel on roads teeming with police.
Finance and Economic Development Minister, Patrick Chinamasa, reinforced in his 2016 National Budget the need for intensive destination marketing and promotion targeted at the international as well as the domestic markets.
He also highlighted the need for sector players to develop new tourism products, which should be complemented by introduction of a new visa regime and bilateral and multi-lateral co-operation in tourism so that Zimbabwe becomes a competitive destination.
Yet it is as clear as daylight that the police roadblocks littering our roads have undermined any efforts that any stakeholder may make to increase international tourist traffic and promote tourism even among locals.
The Visitor Exit Survey, conducted by the Zimbabwe National Statistics Agency and commissioned by the Ministry of Tourism and Hospitality, undoubtedly revealed that foreign tourists have been ill treated on the country’s roads.
The report said five percent of 38 680 foreign tourists polled between 2015 and 2016 had revealed that they were not happy with their stay in Zimbabwe. Of these, 43,2 percent said they had been harassed by the Zimbabwe Republic Police at roadblocks, while 14,7 percent said they had been harassment by Zimbabwe Revenue Authority’s customs officers at the country’s border posts.
Apparently, during the review period, 80 percent of arrivals into Zimbabwe were African tourists who preferred to drive.
There is need for action to protect both foreign and local tourists from harassment of any form both on our roads and on the country’s entry and exit points.
The standard of policing that is now common on our roads, characterised, for example by armies of officers with spikes in the central business district in Harare, leaves a lot to be desired and will always be a deterrent to tourism and an attraction to bad publicity.
There is no investment required in dealing with this scourge, yet if we persist on this path, we will be forced to splurge millions trying to convince skeptical international tourists to visit our wonderful attractions.
The best marketing is referrals by those who have visited before.

COMMENTS

WORDPRESS: 3
  • comment-avatar
    Homo Erectus 9 months

    Chihuri and his cohorts in the ZRP don’t give a s…t. Nobody does. So it (the harassment of drivers) will continue unabated. Down, down, down. The sooner the crash, the better.

  • comment-avatar
    reader 9 months

    NOW I need some assistance please relating to the $200.00 travellers rebate and how it affects us with SI64 of 2016.

    Mr. Bhima recently said if he brings in 2lt cooking oil it is only 2lt and obviously for his own use therefore it also falls into his Travellers rebate.

    This then indicates that as long as an individual is bringing in goods for personal use and is eligible for a travellers rebate the SI does not apply and licence etc is not needed and this is what I understand he was saying.
    ZIMRA seems to have a different take on this and has decided that anything on the SI will be confiscated irrespective of how much or if it falls under individual travellers allocation.

    Can I get clarification on this as we are told we have this Travellers Benefit but when getting to ZIMRA at Beit bridge it turns out we have wasted our money.

    An interesting story for you to pass on to the Minister of tourism please.

    20th November 2016 about 3pm Beit Bridge.

    A family of 5 arrived ready for a wonderful camping holiday in Zimbabwe, the intent was to start in Matopos, then move on to Hwange , Vic fall, Kariba, Vumba and finally Gonarezhou before exiting at Beit bridge in about 3 weeks time. The children were excited maybe this was their first holiday out of RSA I don’t know.

    They had with them all their camping goods including things like butter, bread, eggs, various meats, raw and cooked, cooking oil, milk, well you get the picture, just what you would take if going camping, unfortunately everything was confiscated even though it was below the 5 x 200 allowance they were told they were allowed.

    They were very angry but the crunch came when the ZIMRA official saw the BLANKETS and said they needed a licence to bring them in, this was in-fact their bedding and mainly Duvets. I guess 1 per person (5)

    Before it could be taken the husband started to fume as did the wife and things started to get hot but they managed to keep control told the officials they had changed their minds reloaded the vehicle and headed back to RSA vowing not to return EVER to ZIMBABWE. What a disappointing start to what was going to be a wonderful holiday well planned and probably been saving and planning all year for it.

    I WAS THERE I WITNESSED THIS. I felt sad for them and disappointed and angry with my country that we could treat visitors like this.

    Recently we have had reports of this nature often and it’s not right. We are losing face all over the world and mainly due to the ZIMRA officials misinterpreting the SI, we are losing a fortune through this.

    I don’t have a problem with the SI64 when it comes to bulk imports but this as Mr, BHIMA and various other ministers have stated IT DOES NOT AFFECT THE TRAVELLERS REBATE.

    we need to advise our friends and family coming for holidays here and we the returning resident needs to know what we can bring.

    I hope you can get this to the ministers in Tourism and Finance and we can get a positive statement and the correct procedure can be used.

  • comment-avatar
    Mmmm 9 months

    I had 4 visitors from RSA kept many hours of short holiday time at Beit Bridge, then delayed by nearly 20 costly roadblocks to Nyanga. They will never come again. Tourists need to be given the LrF Schedule of Traffic Offences and Fines at entry. Just so they know the fines are very different to the police highway robbery.