TINASHE MAKICHI/ NYASHA KUNYISWA
Cabinet has approved the setting up of a Tourism Revolving Fund as part of efforts to support the sector’s recovery from the adverse effects of Covid-19, Business Times can report.
The development comes at a time when banks have not been willing to fund the sector.
Government is optimistic the players in the tourism sector will withstand a myriad of headwinds.
Under the facility, government will provide seed capital.
“It is therefore imperative that the government also moves in to help mitigate the funding risks that you (tourism sector) face by establishing the Tourism Revolving Fund.
“This proposal as you know, has been on the cards for many years but am glad to advise you that Cabinet has since approved the setting up of this facility,” Environment, Climate Change, Tourism and Hospitality Industry minister Nqobizitha Mangaliso Ndlovu said.
He said his ministry and the Ministry of Transport and Infrastructure Development, were also working on the refurbishment of some of our airports and airstrips.
This would help increase domestic access to some of our resort areas.
“I implore the private sector to complement this through provision of small aircraft among other services.”
On accommodation facilities development, Ndhlovu said numerous facilities are currently under development and a number of refurbishments of facilities are taking place during this difficult era.
Official data obtained from the Zimbabwe Tourism Authority shows that over US$100m has been invested in new tourism facilities with key milestone investments including the Palm River Hotel, whose construction commenced during the Covid-19 era set to be completed.
He said the government remains a willing and strong partner in this journey and will continue to advocate strongly for sector specific incentives and support mechanisms to support investments by the private sector.
Meanwhile, tourist arrivals plummeted 72% in the first half of this year largely due to the Covid-19 pandemic, which adversely impacted the sector quite hard.
Governments across the globe, including Zimbabwe, imposed unprecedented lockdown measures and travel restrictions.
Consequently, the overall number of travellers and tourist receipts plummeted during the reviewed period.
“… Arrivals into Zimbabwe during the first half of 2021 decreased by 72%.
“Faced with this scenario the industry has to be resilient and more creative to win the thrusts of tourists still fearful to travel,” Ndlovu told a Hospitality Association of Zimbabwe meeting held in the capital last week.
He said while Covid-19 has devastating effects, it has presented the sector with a great opportunity to become innovative and exceptional as we embrace the new normal and offer exceptional experience.
Ndlovu said the sector had registered investments particularly in hotel accommodation, despite a decrease in arrivals.