Zimbabwe’s tourism industry has raised the red flag over deteriorating operating environment amid growing fears of serious viability challenges in the sector, Business Times can report.
Speaking at a recent business meeting held in the capital Harare, African Sun Limited board chairman, Emmanuel Fundira said the operating environment was characterised by high cost of doing business, volatile exchange rate and funding challenges, among many other problems.
He appealed for government intervention.
“…We still have a difficult operating environment, human capital flight and a volatile exchange rate. This is why we need government interventions on ease of doing business, streamlining project approval processes, rationalisation of licensing, enhancing the tourism revolving fund, infrastructure development, post Covid-19 stimulus package, exemptions, and incentives to grow the sector with so much potential,” Fundira said.
He added: “There is a need for infrastructure building and improvement done in line with global trends to ensure tourists are comfortable with our products.”
Fundira said more should be done to market tourism destinations in Zimbabwe and provide adequate budgetary support to tourism regulators and other agencies.
“There is a need to do aggressive destination marketing, adequate budgetary support to Zimbabwe Tourism Authority, Parks and Wildlife Management Authority, Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species and Trans frontier Conservation Areas,” he said.
Fundira also said poaching was a big problem in the sector, a dangerous situation driving some of the important species to extinction. The move is thereby affecting tourists.
Fundira said the government should strengthen laws related to human-wildlife conflict.
“There is also a need to protect conservative areas to reduce the human-wildlife conflict resulting in the habitat loss for animals and people. This is mainly from areas where illegal mining activities are taking place,” he said.
The Government of Zimbabwe has allowed tourism players to retain their foreign currency earnings and launched the tourism revolving fund as part of efforts to revive the sector after it had been ravaged by the Covid-19 pandemic for two years.
But the players in the sector believe more can be done.
Fundira said the private sector and the government should work together to grow the sector.
Experts said domestic tourism is difficult to promote as it was too expensive to deal with and local people can’t cope with the situation.
It is believed that local people are comfortable going to South Africa rather than Zimbabwe resorts as prices in the south of Limpopo were affordable.