THE Zimbabwe Council for Tourism (ZCT) is contemplating establishment of a tourism bank that will provide funds to develop tourist attractions and infrast
ructure to increase earnings and traffic.
ZCT chief executive Paul Matamisa said consultations were being made regarding the setting up of a tourism bank whose main thrust would be to ensure major tourist attractions and resorts were upgraded in order to improve earnings and foreign tourist arrivals.
“There should be a tourism bank in this country. It (should be) a catalyst for the industry’s development. We are working on such plans with the relevant authorities and something positive should materialise in the long-term,” Matamisa said.
Matamisa said the Tourism Bank in Malaysia was behind the success of the tourism industry in the Malaysia.
“We will take a cue from Malaysia. It (Tourism Bank) will be a place where companies can get loans, just as Agribank. Some banks offer loans big companies such as Zimsun, Rainbow Towers or Cresta but not to small players whose contribution to the industry is significant,” Matamisa said.
He said the bank would also support infrastructure and any project development aimed at improving the tourism industry in the country.
Tourism accounts for 4% of the country’s gross domestic product.
Zimbabwe’s tourism industry, once a major foreign currency earner, has declined over the last six years due to an economic crisis in the country.
The country used to earn over US$777 million per year from tourism before the industry took a battering from the economic crisis.
The sector earned about US$98,67 million last year.
Government blames the slump in tourism on negative publicity from western media.
In the past six years, there has been a marked mismatch between captured tourist numbers and the bed occupancies in major hotels.
Statistics from the ZTA, the country’s premier tourism promotion organisation, show a marked decline in the number of tourists visiting the country.
Tourist arrivals in Zimbabwe increased by 33% during the first half of the year against the comparable period last year.
ZTA chief executive officer Karikoga Kaseke said the increase had surpassed their target by 3,3%.
“The positive growth is expected to continue and the second half tourists figure is now being revised to 1,1 million bringing the total projected tourist arrivals for 2006 to 2,1 million, a 35% increase compared to 2005,” he said.