DESPITE calls for Zimbabwean businesspeople to refocus their companies in line with government’s Look East policy, the Hospitality Association of Zimbabwe (Haz) has said it will continu
e to deal with traditional Western markets.
Haz president Francis Ngwenya said they were keen to engage all stakeholders to revive the country’s struggling tourism sector.
Tourism has been struggling since 2000 because of the political instability associated with government’s arbitrary seizure of white commercial farms.
Ngwenya said a lot needed to be done to boost tourist arrivals from all markets, old and new.
He called for an all-inclusive marketing strategy to market the country as a major tourist destination.
“We feel all markets should be engaged, even the European markets. But we see East Asia as offering an opportunity to us in the hospitality sector,” said Ngwenya.
He said the tourism sector had been affected by the negative publicity the country was receiving.
Ngwenya said the situation had been worsened by reports that the Zimbabwean side of the Victoria Falls was not safe by operators to maximise trade in their own countries.
“We will continue to dispel reports that the Zimbabwean side is not safe. But we have no problem with them marketing the Victoria Falls as part of their countries’ attractions as long as the tourists end up coming into the country,” said Ngwenya.
He said the 2010 soccer World Cup in South Africa was likely to provide a much-needed boost to the country’s tourist arrivals.
The tourism sector has this year been projected to contribute only 2% to the country’s gross domestic product. At its peak in the late 1990s the sector contributed 12%.
The number of employees in the sector has declined from 22 000 to the current 13 000.
The political fallout with the West has forced the Zimbabwean government to change its policy and do more business with countries in the Far East such as China, Malaysia and Thailand.