Tourism grows as Zim, China trade ties strengthen

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Tourism minister Walter Mzembi

CHINESE travellers to Zimbabwe are on the rise as trade ties between the two countries strengthen after western investors severed ties with Harare because of alleged rights violations.

President Robert Mugabe has turned to China, Russia and other emerging markets for investments. Analysts told Fin24 however that there was still a gap left by traditional investors pushed out by the regulatory and operating framework.

“Trade ties are growing and there is a significant footprint of Chinese companies in cement manufacturing, construction, chrome smelting. But this has not been enough as the gap left by western and other traditional investors is too big, hence the current investment shortfalls,” said independent economist, Moses Moyo.

However, South African investors such as Pick n Pay, Impala Platinum and Tiger Brands have remained active in the country despite operating and regulatory constraints which experts say discourage investment although those in the tourism sector are showing signs of strain.

Trade ties between Zimbabwe have continued to strengthen, with Chinese companies seeking to capitalise on business opportunities in the country. Fresh data from Zimstats shows that Chinese imports into Zimbabwe totalled $214m for the seven months period to end of July.

The export sector is however still struggling, with capacity utilisation in industry and manufacturing still below 40% according to industrialists. The strong trade ties between Zimbabwe and China have also seen tourist arrivals from the Asian country into Harare soar by 26% to 5 380.

The rise in tourist arrivals has also been attributed to tourism related activities and travels by Chinese nationals for business purposes around Zimbabwe.

Zimbabweans have started to protest against policies by the government and these have in the past few months often turned violent. This has prompted calls for travellers to be careful about the country as a visiting destination.

SA Tourism deputy chairperson, Thebe Ikalafeng said Zimbabweans currently has a bad country risk image, even among its own citizens that are settled in South Africa. He said Zimbabweans in South Africa were cautioning travellers against visiting Zimbabwe because of the current wave of demonstrations against government policies.

“There must be leadership commitment and there must be clear actions on growing tourism. We need to get Zimbabwe back on the list of the most valuable brands in the world,” said Ikalafeng.-Fin24

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