WEF: Zim must go back to drawing board

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Zimbabwe was last week ranked 114 out of 140 economies on the World Economic Forum Travel and Tourism Index.

Spain was the top-ranked economy while Yemen was at the tail end.

President Emmerson Mnangagwa joined over 1 000 global leaders, start-up founders, development experts, artists and innovators who were in Cape Town, South
Africa, for the World Economic Forum (WEF)-Africa meetings.

One of the key highlights of these meetings is the Travel and Tourism Competitiveness Index, which was released on Wednesday. Covering 140 economies, the
Travel and Tourism Competitiveness Index measures the set of factors and policies that enable the sustainable development of the travel and tourism sector,
which contributes to the development and competitiveness of a country.

The Travel and Tourism Competitive Index captures the general conditions necessary for operating in a country: business environment; safety and security;
health and hygiene; information communication technology readiness; prioritisation of travel and tourism; international openness; price competitiveness;
environmental sustainability; air transport infrastructure; ground and port infrastructure; tourist service infrastructure; natural resources and cultural
resources and business travel.

The Travel and Tourism Competitiveness report is a flagship product of the Platform for Shaping the Future of Mobility, which brings together world leaders to
ensure travel and transportation systems meet 21st century demands.

The rapid proliferation of new modes of mobility and disruptive business models provides us with the opportunity to reinvent mobility systems by using policy
and technological innovations to address societal, economic and environmental risks.

This year, government sees tourism as one of the key drivers of economic growth despite indications that Zimbabwe’s economy will contract by up to 5,7% this
year. For a country endowed with vast natural resources and an educated human capital, the current rankings should be a wake-up call for authorities to
overhaul the tourism sector’s model.

The Victoria Falls is one of the Seven Natural Wonders of the World, but reports show that tourists from across the world are no longer spending nights in the
resort town but are instead flying into the town to view the majestic attractions before flying back to either Zambia or South Africa. Factors such as
accessibility and the cost of the tourism product have often been cited as some of the reasons affecting arrivals.

The report further shows that sub-Saharan Africa outpaces the global average for growth in tourism receipts and arrivals, with the island nation of Mauritius
(54th) outscoring last year’s top performer South Africa (61st) to rank as top scorer in the region. Due to historically lower levels of economic development,
the region continues to face difficulties in health and hygiene, overall infrastructure and the effective selling of cultural and business travel.

According to the WEF, growth in travel and tourism competitiveness has traditionally offered tremendous returns, from increases to Gross Domestic Product and
labour absorption, to local economic development for more remote communities. However, competitiveness for competitiveness’ sake may become a burgeoning
constraint on the sector as a whole.

— Econometer Global Capital.

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