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Cresta Column – What you said this month

Norman Moyo

THIS week, we have decided to sit back and let you the readers have a say.

We are encouraged by your feedback and felt

the need to share your different perspectives with the nation at large. We believe that the secret to recovery in the tourism industry lies in the ability to get the other person’s point of view and see things from that person’s angle as well as from our own.

We encourage positive ideas and hints on how to turn around this ailing industry.

Received from Attilio V (commenting on legitimate plagiarism – November 7):

Just a brief note to congratulate you on the article you published. Your comments are very valid especially when one takes into account how difficult it is to operate in this environment, and stay alive day by day. It is important though to encourage the vision and the courage of people who are prepared to use any possible means in order to prepare the ground for the future (Tourism Master Plan, VAT zero rating, Tourism Police Unit).

What I am saying here is that there should be people fighting on both fronts, and not just talking, as you very rightly say, as has been happening for the last four years. Our trade associations, including CEAZ (Catering Employers Association), and government bodies have lost the plot and are each sitting alone in a corner worrying about membership and revenues, so that they can keep their job but doing nothing about solving the day to day problems of the individual sub-sectors (gas, Zesa charges, refuse collection, minimum wages etc).

I would encourage you to write more and stimulate the apathy of every individual operator who is only capable of criticising the inefficiency of the various associations but is not actually prepared to put any work into them, expecting his/her problems to be solved, for a miserable membership fee by the one person who is employed by the association.

At the same time I would also urge you to challenge those people who have accepted the leadership of these associations to be just that: “Leaders”.

Their role is to be there for what they can give and not for what they can get. You also need to give a very strong wake up call to ZTA and the ministry, reminding them that their role is to assist and facilitate the bureaucracy and make the systems run smoothly. During these difficult times the last thing we need is to have an “Hotels inspectors unit” policing the industry and removing stars. They should be assisting the trade by encouraging operators to improve their product and use it as a marketing tool and not threatening them with demotion.

We need a unity of purpose both in the macro and micro environment.

Received from Lizwe (commenting on legitimate plagiarism):Your article is a good critique of leaders in the tourism industry.

However, allow me to differ with you in so far as you are letting the government off the hook in some of your arguments. While I am by no means an expert in the field on which you were writing, allow me to point out with speed the issue that there are some industries, of which tourism is part, that are so dependent on the environment in which they are operating more than the capability and skill of those in the driving seat.

Tourism is the most vulnerable industry in any society each time the environment becomes hostile to foreign appreciation. You will recall how the mere outbreak of Sars in Asia affected that industry in a matter of days, and how tourism figures fell in the first world at the fear of similar attacks to September 11.

Zimbabwe is not immune to those factors. No matter what strategies can be formulated at the moment in selling the country as a viable tourist destination, as long as government is the same, and still bent on its suicidal policies, the failure of tourism is almost as assured as the fact that the sun will rise tomorrow.

People do not flock to the Vic Falls, Masvingo and Kariba because the Zimbabwe Council for Tourism has good strategies and executes them well, they go there because they have money to spend and it is safe to spend their money there.

I don’t think you are doing any justice to readers when you try and equate the administration of a government with corporate administration. In modern constitutionalism, it is considered the reality that a government’s obligations to its people far exceeds, and is incomparable to those of a company to its shareholders. Therefore, a government’s objectives and goals cannot be viewed in that light.

Tourists would rather spend their dollars and watch a portion of the Vic Falls from the Zambian side, rather than risk life and limb (as it is perceived) by coming into Zimbabwe.

Received from Godfrey N (commenting on the power of positive perceptions – November 14 ):

No, you are avoiding the truth. The problem is that if you continue to avoid the truth you will end up believing in the wrong things. There is nothing you can do to lure tourists when the BBC is banned in the country. Be honest, tourism cannot grow separately from other sectors. Tourists cannot be told what they must come and see. Tourists are not scared of ordinary criminals.

Tourists are scared of repressive governments. All those countries you refer to, for example Canada, they chose a recovery path as a national partnership not individual sectors going it alone.

Valued readers, your comments are greatly appreciated. At the end of each month this page will be dedicated to airing your viewpoints, therefore, please keep your feedback coming.

* This roundup was compiled by Norman Moyo – Cresta Hospitality’s group sales and marketing manager. To send feedback e-mail marketing @cresta.co.zw

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