By Tatenda Macheka
Exorbitant service mark-ups and killer prices are scaring tourists away from Zimbabwe, Tourism and Hospitality minister Walter Mzembi lamented on Wednesday as he received 88 000 Euros on behalf of government from the Netherlands embassy, for Zimbabwe to participate at an international tourism fair in the Netherlands.
The Royal Netherlands Embassy is sponsoring the participation of the Zimbabwe Tourism Authority (ZTA), and selected tourism industry players to participate at Vakantiebeurs 2015 and the contracting of market representatives in the Benelux market for 2015.
“Pricing is the key feature, we can spend a month in the Netherlands marketing brand Zimbabwe but if the private sector does not come up with the regional price index then we are not competitive. A tourist destination should be competitive, prices make the destination competitive.
“I was in Egypt on my Christmas vacation at Shamal Shake and I met tourists who were on holiday using a package of $700 to a minimum of $300 including return air tickets and reservations but you do not find such here in Zimbabwe.
“The price of fuel has gone down globally yet in Zimbabwe it’s still the same price. The price of a hamburger here in Zimbabwe is $15 but in Botswana is $5. Bungee jumping in Zimbabwe can be $150 but Zambia charges less on the same bridge why that is so?” questioned Muzembi at media briefing in Harare.
He urged the private operators to adjust prices to international trends and to utilise the grant from the Embassy of the Kingdom of Netherlands to sell Zimbabwe bearing in mind the price value chain and cost build-ups.
ZTA chief executive Karikoga Kaseke said Zimbabwe’s participation at international tourism fare was a way of re-engaging the West and Europe.
“We welcome this gesture; Zimbabwe is regaining its lost market share. It is a genesis of bilateral relations, at our peak in 1999 we had 39,800 arrivals from the Benelux market, that is Belgium, Netherlands, Luxembourg but in 2013 it was 14 000 arrivals, we have to improve,” said Kaseke.
Netherlands Ambassador to Zimbabwe Gera Sneller said her country was glad to support the country’s tourism industry, adding that Zimbabwe should not only be known in the Netherlands but across Europe.
“We are there to support the tourism industry, Zimbabwe has so much to offer in nature and wildlife, so we should make sure we put Zimbabwe on the map and one of the most important thing is to be visible and this will improve the economy and also create employment,” she added. The Zimbabwe Mail