Tourism minister Prisca Mupfumira says one of her immediate actions would be to review entrance fees to national parks for domestic tourists.
Mupfumira was one of a few ministers to retain her post in President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s largely youthful administration appointed recently.
She now presides over an expanded portfolio that includes the administration of the Parks and Wildlife Management Authority. Previously, the authority fell under the water and climate ministry.
“The costs of getting into national parks are prohibitive, they are too high,” she said.
This was after citizens had raised complaints of high fees into national parks, which are hindering growth of domestic tourism.
The country generates about
$1 billion from the tourism industry per annum.
Government projects that reducing fees into national parks would increase the numbers of arrivals into tourism resorts, and become one of the cornerstones of a rise in revenues from the leisure industry.
Karikoga Kaseke, the Zimbabwe Tourism Authority chief executive, concurred with Mupfumira and said the country’s hotels have been “overcharging” locals.
He, however, said government would not intervene on how hotels price their products but will let market forces to determine costs.
“We know that they are overcharging. But we cannot ask hotels that are overcharging so that they manage demand to reduce prices.
“We are coming back to be a real tourism industry. It will be difficult for us to convince hotels that are 80 percent full to reduce prices. We are very happy with the tourism industry at the moment,” said Kaseke.
This comes at a time the tourism industry had demonstrated the potential to stimulate economic growth while also contributing to the preservation of the ecosystem.
“The tourism sector is a critical player in safeguarding the cultural heritage as well as empowerment of local communities,” Vice President Kembo Mohadi said in Bulawayo last week while officially opening Africa Youth in Tourism Conference.
Mohadi noted that since the 1990s the sector has been contributing significantly to Africa’s economic growth and employment creation.
“Global average total contribution of tourism to Gross Domestic Product increased from $69 billion in 1995 to $166 billion in 2014. In Africa tourism generated more than 21 million jobs on average between 2011 and 2014, which translates to 7,1 percent of the total number of jobs in Africa,” he said.
He further indicated that tourism industry was among the sectors that government has identified to play a critical role in providing decent jobs as the country strives to transform the economy.
Government has also promulgated the National Tourism Master Plan and the National Tourism Sector Strategy as tools to promote the growth and development of the industry.
— The Financial Gazette