Bold steps to boost local tourism

Source: Bold steps to boost local tourism | The Herald

Bold steps to boost local tourism

Mukudzei Chingwere
Herald Reporter
Zimbabwe’s tourism digital marketing campaign was rated one of the top eight out of the 109 exhibiting countries at the ongoing Expo 2020 Dubai.

This comes as the world starts to notice improvements within the sector aimed at attaining a US$5 billion tourism economy by 2025.

Cabinet yesterday also announced a 100 percent retention of foreign earnings by the sector, and a waiver of value added tax on domestic tourism, as well as duty exemption facility, among other measures to help the sector recover after being ravaged by Covid-19.

Investment in the tourism sector has risen from US$86 million in 2020 to US$142 million last year.

Speaking after yesterday’s Cabinet meeting, Information, Publicity and Broadcasting Services Minister, Monica Mutsvangwa, explained the measures that Government was taking to boost the tourism sector.

“The country’s tourism digital marketing campaign was rated by Dubai Expo 2020 as one of the top eight out of the 109 exhibiting countries,” she said.

“The 2020 and 2021 editions of the Sanganai/Hlanganani World Tourism Expo were held virtually with limited participants. The 2022 Edition will be held in Bulawayo as a full physical event.”

Minister Mutsvangwa announced the launch of the ZimBho campaign in 2020, which helped improve domestic tourism and increased domestic entries into national parks to 251 088 in 2021 compared to 173 714 in 2020.

On investment promotion she said: “Tourism investments increased from US$86 million in 2020 to US$142 million in 2021. A total of US$133,2 million was invested in public-private partnership tourism-related construction projects between 2021 and 2022 involving the Forestry Commission.”

Notable investments were in accommodation facilities built in Victoria Falls and renovation of existing ones as well as in Harare, Makhado in Beitbridge, new conference facilities and Hot Plate Grill restaurants opened throughout the country.

The Zimbabwe Parks and Wildlife Management Authority (Zimparks) is also refurbishing its lodges in Nyanga, Vumba, and Chimanimani National Parks.

Zimparks also launched new tourism products to diversify attractions in the national parks and these include Sikato Lion Encounter in Masvingo province, the Chinhoyi Lion Encounter in Mashonaland West Province, and the Tshabalala Lion Encounter and Entertainment area in Matabeleland South province.

In terms of connectivity, Minister Mutsvangwa said Qatar Airways commenced flights into Zimbabwe on August 1 last year, while other airlines that service the local air space to access tourism facilities are Mack Air of Botswana, Fastjet which has scheduled flights that connect Victoria Falls to Kruger National Park, Falcon Air Safaris, with the District Development Fund now servicing Hwange Airport.

Luftansa’s Eurowings will service the Frankfurt-Windhoek-Victoria Falls route from March 30.

These services are in addition to those already being offered by Ethiopian Airlines, Kenya Airways, South African AirLink, Rwandair, Air Tanzania and Emirates.

Minister Mutsvangwa said the waiver of value added tax (VAT) on domestic tourism and duty exemption facility will help improve access to tourism products and services by the domestic market through extended price reductions.

“A total of 117 applicants received tax rebates valued at US$11 301 721 in 2021, compared to the 81 applicants that received US$2 399 957 in 2020,” she said.

“The rebates were for capital goods and specified motor vehicles. Government paid $198 million to support operations of the Zimbabwe Tourism Authority (ZTA), whose operations are normally funded by a 2 percent levy charged on services provided to both domestic and international tourists.”

Minister Mutsvangwa said the Tourism Satellite Account which is a statistical tool for the measurement of tourism’s contribution to the Gross Domestic Product, trade and employment in the economy, was now operational.

She said Cabinet also resolved that the Statutory Instrument on duty rebates be amended to give the ZTA the exclusive mandate to recommend applicants to the Ministry of Finance and Economic Development for duty processing.