By Vimbai Kamoyo
VICTORIA FALLS – The Minister for Tourism and Hospitality Industry, Prisca Mupfumira said Matabeleland North is poised for tourism growth as the government seeks to mainstream provinces’ operations.
Speaking during the third leg of the Consultative Conference for Tourism Sector Strategy which is being coordinated by her ministry and the Zimbabwe Tourism Authority (ZTA), Mupfumira said the government was in the process of giving prominence to most districts in the province as tourism destinations.
“I am happy that the Government is considering the adoption of Victoria Falls Tourism Special Economic Zone corridor approach. This initiative will address the imbalance in product profiling within the province by mainstreaming areas such as Binga, Hwange and environs into the product portfolio. This will go a long way in ensuring that tourism development does not only concentrate on Victoria Falls but spread to the province as a whole,” said Mupfumira.
The minister, who bounced back in the new government after former President Robert Mugabe fired her, said it was imperative that the indigenous people of the country be involved in establishing tourism business in the province.
“I would like to therefore emphasise that the designation of the region as a Special Economic Zone should not only concentrate on investment from outside the country and ignore the local people at the grassroots level but should be all inclusive. This serves as a clarion call on our people that the sector is open for investment by locals at all levels, thus, as government we need to put in place measures that support small tourism operators to invest into the Special Economic Zone,” said the tourism minister.
Meanwhile the ZTA boss Karikoga Kaseke has begged players in the tourism industry to come up with a document that will give proper direction to their operations.
“I sincerely beg you all tourism players to be serious with the strategy that we want to come up with. It is the vision for the industry. It must be well thought out to have meaning to the industry. We should not have an ill-crafted vision like the one at the ministry (of Tourism and Hospitality industry). The one at the ministry says, ‘to be a destination of choice.’ How can a ministry be a destination?” rhetorically asked sharpshooter Kaseke who is often dreaded in the industry for a no-nonsense approach.
Speaking at the same forum, principal director for immigration, Clemence Masango revealed that twenty-eight countries had been upgraded from visa class “C” to class “B”.
Zimbabwe operates a three-tier visa regime system. Class “A” is for countries that do not require visas to visit the country’; class “B” for the countries whose visas are processed upon arrival and class “C” for nations that apply visas whilst in their countries.
“I can reveal that with immediate effect 28 countries have been upgraded from class C to class B. I cannot mention them all but India and Rumania are among them,” said Masango.