Roberta Katunga, Senior Business Reporter
ZIMBABWE’S implementation of green concepts in the tourism sector is set to improve arrivals especially from European markets that are conscious about environmentally friendly practice, an official has said.
UK-based Green Tourism managing director Mrs Andrea Nicholas said Zimbabwe, which is the first African country to embrace the green tourism concept, had displayed best practice that exceeded most expectations.
Green tourism is defined as environmentally friendly tourism activities with various focuses and meanings.
In a broad term, green tourism is about being an environmentally friendly tourist or providing environmentally friendly tourist services.
Mrs Nicholas is in the country with a team of experts after an invitation from the Zimbabwe Tourism Authority to pilot the project at 14 tourism businesses in Victoria Falls and Hwange.
“We have been doing a tour of the businesses looking at everything from bedrooms and bathrooms as well as the type of food served in the hotels and lodges considering what chemicals are being used and whether the products are being sourced locally to promote local communities,” said Mrs Nicholas.
She said the green concept would help the country to save money and subsequently improve the economy as it focuses on promoting community projects and the use of local suppliers.
Mrs Nicholas said her company has produced an action plan and report for businesses on how to implement the green concept.
“From the time we have spent here, it is evident that tourism businesses in Zimbabwe are committed to going green and doing changes to how they have been conducting business.
“It is an important step for the country to take as Europeans are looking for greener options and taking this step will help improve arrivals from that market and the tourism sector as a whole,” she said.
Mrs Nicholas said the company which has been doing business in the UK for the past 20 years had expanded to Canada, Italy, New Zealand and Sweden hence they were excited to extend their services to Africa with Zimbabwe being the focal point.
Speaking on the general tourism sector, Mrs Nicholas said despite negative reports about the country, Zimbabwe was an amazing country and going forward they will become ambassadors of the country and encourage more people to visit.
“The people here are friendly and everyone has to experience this wonderful culture, wildlife and destination. We were definitely blown away by what a fantastic country Zimbabwe is,” she said.
The green concepts programme is a partnership of ZTA, Green Tourism and Environment Africa and is expected to be implemented over the next five years.
ZTA spokesman Mr Sugar Chagonda said as a build up towards the crafting of the minimum green tourism guidelines for the sector, a pilot programme was underway to certify operators in the resort town and its environs.
“The pilot assessment has started with the Certification Award Ceremony scheduled for 2 March 2016 at a colourful ceremony in Victoria Falls. Some of the operators to be assessed include Victoria Falls Safari Lodge, Victoria Falls Hotel, Stanley and Livingstone Lodge, Elephant Camp, Cresta Spray View Hotel, Zambezi Sands, Somalisa Camp, Ivory and Khulu lodges, Pioneer Camp, Vintage Camp, Ilala Lodge and Bayete Lodge,” said Mr Chagonda.
He said the businesses would achieve three levels namely bronze, silver and gold.
An assessor Mr John Proctor is in the country to do the assessment.