Tourism stakeholders converged at Great Zimbabwe University, for the 2021 World Tourism Day Academic Symposium under the theme “Tourism for Inclusive Growth”.
This year’s commemorations came when the effects of the Covid-19 pandemic are battering the global tourism industry, with investment and job creation declining significantly.
A total of 639,356 tourist arrivals were registered in the country during the year 2020. This figure is nearly 1.7 million less than that of 2019 with 76% (486 489) of these arrivals having been recorded during the first quarter of the year. Looking at the 2020 tourist arrivals, the performance has gone back to that of the year 1991, thus taking the sector 30 years back.
Despite the pandemic, the Minister of Environment, Climate, Tourism and Hospitality Industry, Honourable Mangaliso Ndlovu said he was humbled by the turn-out and esteemed privilege bestowed upon him to address a respectable team of renowned scholars, technocrats, students, public policy officials, and the media at the symposium.
“It reminds me, ladies and gentleman, of my personal earlier stint as an academic, standing before our students in the lecture room. Today I am asked to be Guest of Honour, presiding over the discourses of esteemed scholars, lecturers, and technocrats in the field of tourism. I humbly choose not to be just your Guest of Honour but to be active participation too!
“Zimbabwe as a member of the family of nations is pleased to join the world in celebrating the World Tourism Day, and I gladly invite and welcome you all to the commemorations. Today`s gathering and World Tourism Day Symposium is a precursor to the main World Tourism Day Celebrations whose main celebrations are held on the 27th of September annually. For this year, our main celebrations as a country will be held in Bindura, It is also part of our quest as a government to infuse and recognize the role of academia in policy formulation. It also serves as a platform to link academia on the reality in the industry so that they produce graduates who are ready to deal with practical challenges that face the economy at large and the tourism sector in particular,” Minister Ndlovu said.
The thrust of the government, in line with the need to achieve a middle-income economy by the year 2030, is to ensure the escalation of the role of tourism in improving the livelihoods of people. This augurs well with this year’s World Tourism Day theme “Tourism for Inclusive Growth”, whose focus is to ensure tourism growth takes everyone on board.
This theme, therefore, provides a unique occasion to amplify the conversation about the sector’s role inclusiveness as stakeholders push through the recovery and growth of the sector.
“In driving the recovery agenda no one should be left behind including communities, minority groups, the youth, the women and the differently-abled and those who would otherwise be at risk of being left behind. We want everyone to be able to participate in the sector both as consumers and producers of the tourism products and in the value chain of tourism. In terms of employment, we need to ensure equitable employment creation and the creation of decent workspaces for our communities. We will therefore rely on the ability of tourism to generate employment, yield income from foreign visitors, to jointly increase revenue by levying taxes on consumption and channeling more of that revenue to communities.
“Distinguished Guests, Ladies and Gentleman, I wish to also encourage more local players to participate in the tourism industry and take advantage of the numerous opportunities that have been created by Government to support tourism investments. My Ministry administers Statutory Instruments which allow tourism players to import capital goods and equipment duty-free. To access these, we urge aspiring businesspersons in the sector and existing business persons to visit any of our ministry offices nationwide or those of the Zimbabwe Tourism Authority for clarity.”
The minister commended the tourism players who have remained resolute and resilient in the wake of the Covid 19 pandemic which has seen the country defying all odds to register tourism investments worth USD97.6 million from January 2021 to date in new tourism products.
He was upbeat that the sector will thus emerge stronger and ready to grow exponentially when Covid 19 finally turns the corner.
To propel tourism for inclusive growth, the Ministry has taken a strong emphasis in advocating for the participation of the youth and women in the tourism sector. It has also taken a deliberate drive to promote and develop Community Based Tourism Enterprises (CBTEs) that can enhance local communities to improve their welfare, income and social security through tourism.
In Masvingo, the ministry has provided capacity building to community enterprises such as Chesvingo Cultural Village, Dzimbahwe Cultural Village and is on a continued drive to assist more through funding from Government and a cooperating partner – Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA).