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Tourism masterplan out

Godfrey Marawanyika

GOVERNMENT has come up with an empowerment plan that will see the tourism industry opening up to more indigenous players, businessdigest can reveal.

erdana, Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif”>The new indigenous players will be guaranteed financial assistance from government.

The plan is contained in a policy document by the Ministry of Environment and Tourism titled, “National Tourism Policy: Government of Zimbabwe”.

The draft document says that the development of tourism will be based on four broad policy objectives — environmental, economic, social/cultural and organisational.

The tourism plan comes hard on the heels of another policy by government which seeks to increase indigenous participation in the mining industry.

“In line with the national government policy of indigenisation, this policy seeks to open the tourism industry to the participation of the majority of Zimbabweans, bearing in mind the high entry costs particularly for the hospitality sector,” the policy plan says.

“The government of Zimbabwe will facilitate access of tourism resources to the majority through land leases, permits and financial resources. The government will develop and implement capacity building programmes for local communities and local investors,” it says.

The document notes that the country’s tourism sector has grown on the guiding principle of “high value low volume” tourism, catering for a small segment of the market and heavily dependent on traditional markets.

Under the new plan, government expects to get support from the Zimbabwe Tourism Authority, Parks and Wildlife Management Authority, Air Zimbabwe, the private sector and the media.

The plan aims for “diversification and new initiatives towards making tourism the catalyst for economic development. It will guide in opening up the sector to new source markets, diversifying the product base and encourage participation by the majority of Zimbabweans.”

According to the plan, Air Zimbabwe would be allowed to privatise.

“The national airline offers access from source markets and to local destinations,” the document says.

“It is a vital link towards the development of tourism. To achieve this, the airline should be encouraged to fly to those markets targeted by the local industry and to the local destinations within Zimbabwe”. It should be “encouraged to form strategic alliances with other global players in the aviation industry. It should be allowed to privatise and run autonomously.”

National Parks are expected to take a lead in the protection of the natural habitat and wildlife in the safari areas and the facilities, and opportunities given to the public for camping, hunting, fishing, photography and the viewing of animals.

Last month National Parks hiked wildlife and operation leases by between 350% and 850%, a move which could force a number of operators out of business.

The department is now demanding an annual rental of between $36 million and $85 million.

The number of visitors coming into the country has been on the decrease over the past five years, negatively impacting on safari operators.

Between January and September 2004 tourist arrivals slumped by 29%.

A total of 1 271 904 tourists visited Zimbabwe, representing a 29% decrease compared to 1 793 128 during the same period in 2003.

Under the plan, government says priority will be given to tourist projects that benefit local communities and ensure environmental protection.

The masterplan says that as part of accounting for funds generated by tourism, government will develop tourism satellite accounts in association with Central Statistical Office so that this revenue is reflected in national accounts.

The document says government will lease out state land with “high tourism potential to local investors”.

“The government will establish tourism financial mechanisms so as to

facilitate the meaningful participation of the local population.”

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