Zimbabwe Unveils Strategic Tourism Policy to Drive Economic Growth

Honorable Barbara Rwodzi, the Minister of Tourism and Hospitality Industry, introduced a comprehensive new Tourism Policy Direction to the Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Tourism. This policy aims to support Zimbabwe’s ambition to become an upper middle-income economy by 2030, as envisioned by President Dr. E. D. Mnangagwa.

The primary goals of the Ministry’s new strategy are to promote and develop the tourism and hospitality industry in Zimbabwe, in line with the nation’s Constitution and the Tourism Act (Cap 14:20). The vision is to position Zimbabwe as a prime tourist destination by adhering to international best practices. A key objective is to grow the Tourism and Hospitality Sector to exceed USD 5 billion by 2025.

The strategy identifies Domestic Tourism as a crucial driver of the tourism economy. To enhance targeted and efficient development, the Ministry has organized the tourism sector into eleven clusters, including Business Tourism, Sports Tourism, Culture and Heritage Tourism, and Medical Tourism.

The success of this cluster approach relies on several supporting infrastructures: well-structured programs, a highly trained workforce, robust legal and financial systems, and modern physical infrastructure. Recognizing the importance of these elements, the Ministry has outlined plans to develop and deploy appropriate programming, staffing, physical and digital infrastructure, legal and regulatory frameworks, and financing systems.

A significant component of the policy is the ongoing amendment of the Tourism Act (Cap 14:20) to reflect current socio-economic and political conditions. The existing act, enacted in 2003, no longer aligns with today’s needs. The amendments aim to ensure that tourism resources benefit Zimbabweans, promote good governance, and support socio-economic rights, as highlighted in Section 13 of the Constitution.

Key proposed changes include the reconfiguration of the Zimbabwe Tourism Fund to ensure transparency and accountability, strengthening the registration and grading of tourist facilities with a focus on sustainability and safety, and enhancing quality and standards management within the tourism sector. Additionally, the policy seeks to regulate online booking platforms, improve the administration and recovery of tourism levies, and mandate the submission of statistics and information by operators for better tourism planning.

To boost business tourism, the policy proposes establishing the Zimbabwe National Conventions Bureau as a standalone entity, similar to those in other Sub-Saharan African countries. This move aims to maximize Zimbabwe’s potential as a premier destination for business events and conferences. Furthermore, the policy mandates coordination between the Zimbabwe Tourism Authority and local authorities to ensure effective enforcement of tourism regulations.

Good corporate governance, transparency, and accountability are central to the proposed amendments. The policy emphasizes gender balance, as required by the Constitution, and aims to ensure that both genders are equally represented in all government institutions and agencies.

Despite these strategic plans, challenges remain. The existing tourism infrastructure needs significant upgrades, and the industry must overcome perceptions of political instability and economic difficulties that have long plagued the nation. However, the new policy direction marks a significant step forward. By addressing these issues through comprehensive reforms, the Ministry aims to attract more tourists and investors, thereby boosting the economy and improving the livelihoods of Zimbabweans.

In summary, the proposed amendments to the Tourism Act are designed to modernize and industrialize Zimbabwe’s tourism sector, making it a significant contributor to the national GDP. The Ministry of Tourism and Hospitality Industry is committed to these strategic goals, aiming to make Zimbabwe a leading tourist destination by 2030. While there are hurdles to overcome, the positive impacts on the development of the tourism industry and the broader economy offer a hopeful contrast to past challenges, signaling a brighter future for Zimbabwe.

Positive Eye News

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