Disturbed by the exorbitant charges on local tourism products, the Minister of Environment, Climate, Tourism, and Hospitality Industry Hon Mangaliso Ndlovu has urged stakeholders in the sector to lower their prices to increase affordability by the majority of citizens to ensure the success of the ZimBho campaign.
The ZimBho campaign was launched today by the tourism minister in the tourist resort of Kariba with the aim of encouraging the growth of tourism through the participation of Zimbabweans.
“It’s disturbing that an average breakfast costs US25 or more in our hotels. That’s the price of a goat! Surely that cannot be justified regardless of even the much-touted “high cost of doing business” argument. I urge the hospitality sector to focus on volumes rather than high margins.
“I am aware that one of the challenges to the domestic market is the low disposable incomes vis-à-vis high prices of our tourism products. The government is continuously engaging in how to improve the cost of doing business for the operators so as to reduce prices. Government is also continuously engaging relevant parties with the view to improve incomes and the economy in general. I am appealing to all employers to do the same as this will go a long way in increasing domestic travel. We want to see you enjoying and having fun,” Minister Ndlovu said.
The call comes at a time when His Excellency the President of the Republic of Zimbabwe, Dr. E. D Mnangagwa launched the National Tourism Recovery and Growth Strategy in which stakeholders were challenged to achieve a $ 5-billion-dollar Tourism Economy by the year 2025.
The Minister alluded to the fact that in the past, before the COVID-19 pandemic, destinations that were deemed successful the world over were supported heavily by their domestic market constituting more than 60% of the business.
This fact was buttressed by Mrs. Sophie Zirebwa, the Director of Domestic Tourism in the Zimbabwe Tourism Authority who also encouraged citizens to engage in the tourism activities within their country.
“It is good for citizens to go on holiday within their country. In order for them to afford holidays (which open one’s mind), it is critical for them to plan ahead. Zimbabwe offers diverse tourism products. It is like a platter where there is something for everyone,” Mrs. Zirebwa said.
She alluded to historical tourism at places like Great Zimbabwe and Khami Ruins to mention a few. The country also teems with a variety of wildlife and birds. There are also breathtaking landscapes like the Eastern Highlands, Boterekwa and the Chilonjo cliffs. The country’s cuisine is also varied and on offer also is entertainment as evidenced by big festivals like the Harare International Festival of the Arts (HIFA).
Zimbabwe has taken its first step towards creating demand for its existing tourism products and services through this Domestic Tourism Campaign dubbed ZimBho #IzimYami #Vakatsha. This campaign is designed to focus mainly on the domestic market whose contribution to economic growth and development is yet to be fully realized.
The campaign Brand, ZIMBHO, Hashtag vakatsha, Hashtag IZimYami is premised on the word Bho, which means good, well or fine.
“In the tourism context, we are saying Zimbabwe is beautiful and richly endowed Thus ZIM IS BHO.
“ZimBho is motivated by the street lingo “Bho” which is a slang word casually used in everyday language by almost all people in Zimbabwe meaning “good” or showing common understanding; “Bho” has evolved from just being “Bho” to “Bho zvekuti” meaning very good, “Volume Bho” and the latest being “Bholato” which again is a slang way of saying very good,” Minister Ndlovu added.
The main objectives of the ZimBho campaign are;
- Creating awareness among locals of all attractions within Zimbabwe
- Developing a culture of travel among Zimbabweans
- Increasing domestic travel
- Increase the contribution of domestic tourism to the economy
To support this campaign, Government has exempted VAT on all tourism services for domestic tourists in a bid to reduce the prices being charged on tourism products and services.
“Government will continue looking at ways to make tourism affordable to the nationals and expects to see such incentives actually translating to price reductions in the sector for the benefit of the domestic market.
“In removing the VAT the Government had hoped that there will be a corresponding reduction in the cost of hospitality Institutions. I remain totally concerned that the rates charged by the hotels and lodges in Zimbabwe are still very high. I urge the industry to take stock of what is happening elsewhere, particularly in neighbouring countries, and review your prices downwards,” Minister Ndlovu added.
The launch was graced by Mrs Mary Mliswa Chikoka, the Minister of State and Devolution for Mashonaland West Province and her counterpart, Mrs. Monica Mutsvangwa, the Minister of Information and Broadcasting Services who were both optimistic of the low-hanging fruits availed to the local citizens by the initiative.
In attendance also was the Permanent Secretary in the tourism ministry, Mr. Munesushe Munodawafa, Mr. Givemore chidzidzi, the Acting Chief Executive of the Zimbabwe Tourism Authorities and Directors in the same ministry’s parastatals.