HARARE – The Tourism Business Council of Zimbabwe (TBCZ) says the country should do more to improve its visibility on the international tourism map.
Tich Hwingwiri, the TBCZ president, said various stakeholders should come up with a comprehensive marketing strategy to market the country as an ideal tourism destination, in the face of increasing competition from other regional countries.
“Zimbabwe must also take steps to raise its visibility in the international marketplace, not only continuing to do what it has done before, but also in creating new means by which it can market itself,” he said this week, adding that the private sector was keen to work more closely with the public sector, and in particular the Zimbabwe Tourism Authority, in undertaking meaningful and results-driven initiatives that drive awareness and growth.
“We have seen amazing such initiatives by a range of countries with tourism products inferior to ours and we must not emulate them but set trends in terms of taking action to stimulate interest and generate bookings. The time is right to do so now,” he said.
Hwingwiri, who is also an executive with the Rainbow Tourism Group, indicated that government needs to prioritise the revival of national airline, which is currently under judicial management.
“Air Zimbabwe requires a range of financial and other support measures, and these must be dealt with so that the airline helps become a positive means of attracting travellers to and around Zimbabwe,” he said.
The TBCZ boss further indicated that all obstacles to travel and tourism growth must be addressed and eliminated.
“At the present time I must refer to the position regarding repatriation of funds to airlines from ticket sales generated in Zimbabwe.
“We have been engaging all relevant authorities on this matter and I would like to say today that the matter is in hand and we fully expect a resolution to this issue as soon as possible,” he said.
“The airlines servicing Zimbabwe are the lifeline of our tourism and we must do all we can to ensure the airlines are satisfied by their dealings with Zimbabwe, financially and in other ways,” he said.
This comes as various international airlines are owed over $136 million by the country’s cash-strapped government, which is struggling to service the debt due to foreign currency shortages.
Hwingwiri said it was also essential that the products needed for operators to continue on their day to day business are available at all times and at costs that make it possible for them to be acquired without threat to the operators.
“Fuel is the foundation of our entire economy, not least within travel and tourism, and any interruptions to full and guaranteed supply must be addressed,” he said.