By Tendai Guvamombe (Harare)
The Hospitality Association of Zimbabwe started its inaugural Congress on Thursday in Matare and Perm-Sec for Environment, Climate Change , Tourism and Hospitality Industry Munesu Munodawafa was the guest of honor.
Running under the theme Hospitality Stepping into the 4th Industrial Revolution’ the congress marks the first high leveled engagement between the government and the hospitality sector in a length time.
In a speech Dr Munodawafa reiterated that the hospitality industry is a strategic sector identified by the government under Transition Stabilization Process (TSP) as key pillar to inspire economic recovery through foreign currency generation, employment creation and generation of downstream industries.
“The Congress serves as the first major interaction between the government and hospitality, Tourism is identified by the government under the TSP as one of the key pillars of the economic recovery of our country.”
“As a sector we realize that generation of much needed foreign currency, employment creation and resuscitation of downstream industries are among the focus areas where the identified pillars of the economy such as the hospitality are expected to play a pivotal role.”
Despite these anticipations the ministry noted the sector has been failing to offer desirous performance to meet the said national targets as the current statistics are showing decline in number of visitors as compared to the preceding year.
“My ministry takes cognizance of low hanging fruits for economic recovery and that international visitors are key for positive image building for the country, it is therefore worrying that the available statistics for 2019 so far shows a decline from 2018 and these have been impacted by challenges ranging from the Cyclone Idai which affected Eastern Highlands and climate change.”
Various challenges ranging from power outages, foreign currency shortages among others has been negatively affecting business operations in the hospitality sector.
Despite all these the government is determined to boost the sector through extension of duty free rebate for capital goods, car hire services for Safari operators
“Government is fully aware of the challenges affecting the sector such as power outages, power shortages, foreign currency and limited disposable income for local people to take holidays.
“In recognition of Tourism as strategic pillar government has introduced a number of incentives designed to boost the local tourism industry these include extension of duty free rebate for capital goods, car hire services for Safari operators.”
The Permanent Secretary also highlighted the current Tourism Roadmap Document to 2023 crafted under the ministry aimed at ensuring sustainable tourism growth during the Transitional Stabilization Process (TSP).
The proceedings also looked at finding strategic ways to enable Tourism Industry to contribute 6billion USD to the national economy by taking advantage of Zimbabwe’s recognition by CNN Travel and German based Wanderlust Magazine as a must visit destination