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ZTA strives to polish image

Ngoni Chanakira

THE Zimbabwe Tourism Authority (ZTA) has now been forced to organise a workshop to explain how and where they arrive at some of their figures dished out regularly.

ONT face=”Verdana, Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif”>Tourism industry officials have been issuing different information for arrivals and departures, making life very difficult for the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe (RBZ) and the Zimbabwe Revenue Authority (Zimra) which need the figures to calculate revenue.

RBZ governor Gideon Gono last year said there was huge potential in tourism which officials were not taking advantage of..

He allocated $15,7 billion to the industry from the productive sector facility during the first quarter of this year.

While there have been conflicting statistics on arrivals and earnings Gono says tourism receipts increased by 40,4% from US$11,4 million in 2002 to US$16 million in 2003.

Economic consultant John Robertson this week disputed the figures, saying the department seemed to be guessing all the time.

He said as long as tourists feared for their lives they would not visit Zimbabwe but go to neighbouring South Africa and Zambia from where they could also view the famous Victoria Falls.

Gono, in his monetary policy review statement, said reflecting improving tourist perceptions on Zimbabwe as a safe and attractive destination, the number of tourist arrivals had been on a marked upward trend since 2001.

ZTA marketing executive Givemore Chidzidzi was this week quoted as saying they would be organising a workshop, especially for media practititioners, to explain to them how they arrived at some of their figures.

He accused the media of failing to understand how his organisation arrived at them.

Confusion meanwhile continues to rein in the country’s tourism industry with the announcement of Gono’s new figures during the monetary policy statement review.

Gono’s new figures, announced in the monetary policy review statement, were surprisingly almost 100% lower than those released by the ZTA. The revelation put the credibility of the tourism authority in doubt and embarrassed officials.

The ZTA had earlier issued statistics indicating that the country’s tourist arrivals had grown to 2,2 million last year compared to 2,041 million in 2002.

In his statement, Gono announced that tourist arrivals had only increased to 1 089 million last year compared to 739 284 in 2002.

The tourism authority claimed that tourism receipts had plunged from US$75,7 million in 2002 to US$44,1 million last year. However Gono said there had been a 40% increase in tourism receipts from US$11,4 million in 2002 to US$16 million last year.

Zimbabwe Council for Tourism (ZCT) boss and Zimsun chief executive officer Shingi Munyeza disputed the figures, saying they were exaggerated.

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