A VISITING Canadian delegation of tour operators and journalists that visited some of the country’s tourist resorts last week left government with eg
g on its face after a television journalist said Zimbabwe’s tourism woes were wholly political.
The Zimbabwe Tourism Authority (ZTA) had invited the delegation to tour Zimbabwe in an event arranged by Zimbabwe’s ambassador to Canada, Florence Chideya.
Jonathan Rooth, a senior producer with Omni Television, told Chideya and ZTA authorities who had bargained for positive feedback that Zimbabwe needed to resolve its political crisis if there was to be a change in tourism fortunes.
“I’m going to be frank with you,” Rooth said.
“Your problems here are political. You need to start to talk with the Western media. It’s about time you opened your doors to them. Inviting them to come over to shoot some reality and nature shows can do a lot of good.”
Rooth said currently there was no documentation of Zimbabwe’s tourism products in Western markets making it difficult for prospective clients to visit Zimbabwe.
The television producer also cited an array of problems, which he said hog-tied the growth of the sector.
Rooth highlighted fuel shortages, deserted resorts, poor telecommunications and Internet services and a skewed foreign exchange regime as enfeebling tourism operations potential.
ZTA chief executive officer, Karikoga Kaseke, said government was mulling a plan to twin the Victoria Falls with Niagara Falls to entice tourists from the West.
Kaseke said government was going to rectify pricing distortions in the tourism sector. “We have just concluded an arrangement with Noczim to eradicate the fuel problem,” he said. “It’s a situation that can be normalised but as I speak as ZTA CEO I can assure you that government has made it a priority to solve the problem.”
Government of late has been courting Western markets to resuscitate the tourism sector, which came to a near collapse last year.
Kaseke was recently barred from attending the World Tourism Markets Summit in the United Kingdom, a move thought to stem from his membership of the ruling party.