By Byron Mutingwende
Government has identified the hospitality and tourism sectors as key pillars for economic recovery while emphasising on the need to align with the 4th Industrial Revolution.
This was revealed at the 2019 Hospitality Congress that kicked off in Mutare today and is running under the theme “Hospitality Stepping Into The 4th Industrial Revolution.”
In his keynote address at the congress, Mr. Munesu Munodawafa, the Permanent Secretary for the Ministry of Environment, Climate change, Tourism and Hospitality Industry said Government, under the Transitional Stabilisation Programme (TS), has identified the two sectors as agents for economic recovery.
The TSP was launched in 2018 and runs through to December 2020 and provides the guiding framework for economic development.
“It is therefore critical that as a sector we realise that generation of the much-needed foreign currency, employment creation, and resuscitation of downstream industries are among the focus areas where the identified key pillars of the economy such as hospitality industry are expected to play a pivotal role,” Mr. Munodawafa said.
The hospitality sector provides low hanging fruits for economic recovery and it should be noted that international visitors are key for positive image building for Zimbabwe.
Mr Munodawafa bemoaned a decline in room occupancies in 2019 compared to the previous year for the same period. The hospitality industry can be affected by severe weather patterns like Cyclone Idai that hit Chimanimani and Chipinge; fuel and foreign currency shortages; and limited disposable incomes for local people to take holidays.
However, consistent with the recognition of tourism as a key pillar outlined in the TSP, Government has introduced a number of incentives designed to boost the local tourism industry.
These include incentives such as the extension of duty-free rebate for capital goods and also the car services and vehicles for safari operators as mentioned in the Budget Statement.
As the country steps into the 4th Industrial Revolution, Mr. Munodawafa said artificial intelligence and big data come up as appropriate strategies in the global sector.
“Artificial intelligence, for example, is levelling the information gap between large and small operators in terms of maximising reputation, revenue and customer experience through streamlining processes, and optimising experiences,” he said.