Priscah Mupfumira, the Minister of Tourism and Hospitality Industry had a networking meeting with a group of tourism business people comprising tour wholesalers, tour operators and travel agents as well as Zimbabweans who are working in Dubai.
The meeting was graced by the tourism business people from Dubai, the rest of the Gulf Cooperation Council region and beyond.
“To our guests I would like to commit myself and my entire Ministry to seriously strengthen our tourism business relationships. Ever since we arrived on Sunday morning we have met quite a number of tour wholesalers, tour operators, travel agents and travel media. The universal message emanating from these meetings was that Zimbabwe is unknown in this region from a tourism point of view,” Mupfumira said.
She said Zimbabwe had not been active in the GCC market and absence had created room for negative perceptions about Zimbabwe to prevail.
“However, we are now ready for this market because Zimbabwe is now open for business. We have a new dispensation that was ushered in by the humanitarian military intervention which took place in November last year. This saw the peaceful transition of power from the only leader Zimbabwe had known since independence 1980 to our current President His Excellency Emmerson Dambudzo Mnangagwa.
“The government of His Excellency E D Mnangagwa is aggressively reengaging the world to restore not only the badly damaged economy but the lost confidence and image of a once upon vibrant nation.”
Mupfumira said in all that, the government had taken cognisance of the role that tourism should play in the revival of our economy. She underscored the committed to her new assignment and pleaded for the support of the GCC countries and their partners in the tourism market.
Zimbabwe’s tourism sector continues to witness increased growth, as indicated by tourist arrivals and flight frequency of new airlines that land in both Harare and at the newly expanded Victoria Falls International Airport.
It received a total of 2 422 930 tourist arrivals in 2017, which is a 12% increase from 2 167 686 received in 2016. The response to the clarion call by President Mnangagwa has been very positive from a tourism perspective.
Mupfumira added that the immediate increase in tourist arrivals bore testimony to that. A case in point is when one compares arrivals of December 2016 to those of 2017 where there is a 48% increase. When one compares tourist arrivals of the first quarter of 2017 to that of 2018, there is a 56% increase and the upward trend is projected to continue.
Arrivals from the GCC market have however been very low compared to arrivals into South Africa which is Zimbabwe’s neighbour and competitor. South Africa last year received 55 906 tourists while Zimbabwe received only 7 537 from the Middle East market.
The minister directed the Zimbabwe Tourism Authority which is responsible for destination marketing to do everything possible in the GCC market so that there would be an increase in arrivals from a low of 7 537 to 30 000 from the Middle East market by 2020.
Minister Mupfumira urged delegates to seriously consider Zimbabwe in their quest to package Africa.
“Zimbabwe needs your packages and I promise you will not be disappointed. To my fellow Zimbabweans your Zimbabwe needs you. The Zimbabwe you knew a few months ago is not the Zimbabwe that we know today. We now have, like I said earlier on, a new Zimbabwe with a new leadership that has brought about a new dispensation. I urge you to play your part in making Zimbabwe great again.”