Zimbabwe Tourism Authority on Thursday launched a domestic tourism campaign, dubbed ZimBho. The campaign is focused on urging residents to rediscover Zimbabwe in a bid to prop up the tourism sector.
The campaign coined ZimBho #IzimYami #Vakatsha comes as authorities are pushing to make up some of the shortfall in tourist revenues brought about by Covid-19.
The sector is enticing Zimbabweans to visit their own backyards following a 2018 and 2019 period in which domestic tourism contributed US$500 million and was forecasted to increase by 30 percent.
To support this campaign, Government has exempted VAT on all tourism services for domestic tourists in a bid to reduce the prices being charged on tourism products and services.
ZTA has begun working with various industry partners as well as community groups to offer a number of tour bundles for locals.
“We have consulted with the tourism industry to come up with a campaign that will be launched today, from which all domestic tourism promotion initiatives will be premised,” ZTA CEO Mr Givemore Chidzidzi said during the launch on the shores of Lake Kariba on Thursday night.
“The ZimBho campaign will focus on leisure tourism but servicing all major facets of tourism that is our culture, MICE – meaning Meetings Incentives, Conferences and Exhibitions, sport, religion, health and VFR – meaning visiting friends and relatives in different parts of the country,” he added.
The campaign is in line with the National Tourism Recovery and Growth Strategy, launched earlier this year, challenging the sector to achieve a US$5-billion-dollar Tourism Economy by year 2025.
One of the key pillars of this Recovery and Growth Strategy is the promotion of Domestic Tourism.
Environment, Climate Change, Tourism and Hospitality Industry minister Mangaliso Ndlovu said the intention of the campaign is to help boost the revenue streams of domestic businesses as a complement to government subsidies.
“In the past, before the COVID-19 pandemic, destinations that were deemed successful the world over were supported heavily by their domestic market constituting more than 60% of business,” Ndlovu said.
“Whilst all destinations compete for International Tourism as it brings in new money into the economy (Forex), domestic tourism assists in inducing expenditure and circulating wealth in the economy.”
“Furthermore, domestic tourists become destination ambassadors, assisting in promoting the destination and also encouraging international tourists who are usually keen to visit areas visited by locals. Domestic tourism further expands the I chain and helps in building national pride at the same time promoting national understanding among locals.”
Ndlovu said Government will continue looking at ways to make tourism affordable to the nationals and expects to see such incentives translating to price reductions in the sector for the benefit of the domestic market.
“In removing the VAT the Government had hoped that there will be a corresponding reduction in the cost of hospitality Institutions. I remain totally concerned that the rates charged by the hotels and lodges in Zimbabwe are still very high,” Ndlovu said.
“I urge the industry to take stock of what is happening elsewhere, particularly in neighbouring countries and review your prices downwards. It’s disturbing that an average breakfast costs US25 or more in our hotels. That’s the price of a goat! Surely that cannot be justified regardless of even the much touted “high cost of doing business” argument. I urge the hospitality sector to focus on volumes rather than high margins.”