By Byron Mutingwende
Minister of State for Manicaland, Monica Mutsvangwa has said the province is losing out on potential tourism benefits despite being endowed with many attractions because of lack of transport connectivity including an airport.
“Manicaland Province is a unique and scenic landscape renowned for Mt Nyangani, Mutarazi Falls; the 2nd highest waterfall in Africa with the only skywalk in the country and one of the highest ziplines in the world, Chimanimani; the highest and second highest peak in the country and also, unique outdoor and adventure tours that are second to none.
“Let me hasten to say that, we have several other attractions dotted across the Manicaland Provinces, such as the Hot Springs and the Matendera Cultural Village in Buhera, which are unknown and are crying for recognition. The Province is also starved of events, having the Matendera Arts Festival in Buhera, being the only surviving arts festival in the Province. There is, therefore, need, not only to revive the dying festivities in the Province, such as the Chimanimani Arts Festival, but also to create more festivities,” Mutsvangwa said at the National Tourism Sector Strategy (NTSS) Consultative workshop held in Mutare.
Despite being endowed with such key tourism attractions, the province has, unfortunately, not lived up to its billing in terms of attracting the much needed local and international tourists because of the absence of air access and an airport, Mutsvangwa said through a speech read on her behalf by Manicaland Provincial Administrator Edgar Senza.
The NTSS seeks to extract critical information and develop an understanding of the various challenges faced by players in the tourism sector.
“I also, believe that attractions in this Province, if strategically developed, marketed and promoted, will ensure that the Manicaland Province will be established as a key contributor to tourism income in Zimbabwe.”
Manicaland Province has been designated as one of the Tourism Development Zones (TDZs). This means that the Province can now showcase its tourism products not only to visitors but to potential investors across the globe.
Senza said evidence from countries within the region that have implemented the National Tourism Sector Strategy reveals enhanced destination attractiveness and in turn, positive ranking, with resultant significant contributions towards economic growth.
The province has very fertile soils punctuated with very good climatic conditions, which have enabled it to contribute significantly to food security in Zimbabwe over the years and also to contribute to exports of agricultural produce.
Manicaland is an ideal outdoor destination that is home to the championship golf spots, botanical reserves and the fly-fishing in the Gairezi River. The Chipinge area further south has the unique upland ‘island’ of Mount Selinda. Honde Valley is one of the premier birding destinations in Zimbabwe with its rare green-backed woodpecker, the hornbill.
Tourism activities in Manicaland Province are, however, mainly focused on Nyanga, which is leading in scenic views given its magnificent landscapes. Also, Nyanga is one of the key biodiversity areas in terms of birdlife in Zimbabwe. It is part of the globally important Eastern Zimbabwe Mountains Endemic Bird Area (EBA) and is, therefore, one of the most interesting birding areas in the country.
Tourism activities have also been visible across the scenic Vumba Mountains, the Christmas pass views and the Museum at Rhodes hotel.
However, paltry attention has all along been given to the Matendera Monuments in Buhera, Chimanimani Mountains and the Hot Springs. There is need to increase tourist traffic to the Osborne Dam, the Hot Springs, and the Cecil Kopje amongst other tourism sites.
“We continue to lobby for the establishment of an airport in the Province. We believe we are strategically located to link up with other key attractions across Zimbabwe and this will ensure that we increase the length of stay of our visitors in Zimbabwe,” Senza said.