The Sunday News
Covid-19 is the biggest challenge that the global tourism sector has faced to date. The United Nations World Tourism Organisation estimates a reduction of 58% to 78% in tourist traffic across the world. This means that international tourist arrivals could drop by a billion (across the world).
Typically, the tourism sector is among the first to be affected, and the last to recover during a health crisis (hindustantimes.com)
The twin challenges in the survive stage are to save businesses and save jobs. Furthermore, an online article titled “Tourism as an economic development tool” says the most important economic feature of activities related to the tourism sector is that they contribute to three high-priority goals of developing countries: the generation of income, employment, and foreign-exchange earnings.
In this respect, the tourism sector can play an important role as a driving force of economic development. The impact this industry can have in the different stages of economic development depends on the specific characteristics of each country. Given the complexity of tourism consumption, its economic impact is felt widely in other production sectors, contributing in each case towards achieving the aims of accelerated development.
In Zimbabwe, President Mnangagwa has reiterated that the tourism sector has an important role to play in the attainment of National Vision 2030 and together with agriculture, mining and the manufacturing sector, it is critical in the growth of the economy.
He said this while at the launch of the Visit Zimbabwe Promotion Campaign last Tuesday, which seeks to leverage on the sports and tourism sectors to market the country as a premier tourist destination.
The President said the initiative came against the backdrop of the launch of the National Tourism Recovery and Growth Strategy that seeks to create a US$5 billion tourism sector by 2025.
“The strategy is anchored on Zimbabwe’s vision to be a premier international tourist destination based on the judicious and sustainable exploitation of our unique human and natural resources. It further seeks to re-establish lost contacts with the local, regional and international tourism source markets. Today’s event is therefore informed by that strategic goal, riding on the partnership between the Zimbabwe national cricket teams and the ZTA (Zimbabwe Tourism Authority). The Visit Zimbabwe Promotion Campaign will see a warm invitation being extended to the world to visit Zimbabwe.”
He added that tourism growth was hinged on an aggressive marketing strategy and welcomed synergy between the two sectors leveraging on Zimbabwe’s membership to the International Cricket Council. As part of the initiative the national cricket teams will wear branded merchandise inscribed, “Visit Zimbabwe a World of Wonders,” and will begin with the forthcoming tour of Pakistan and the ICC T20 World Cup.
“I challenge the ZTA, Zimbabwe Parks and Wildlife Management Authority as well as the National Museums and Monuments, among other agencies, to maximise on the benefits of this Visit Zimbabwe Campaign by unveiling unique products which promote Zimbabwe’s wildlife, natural and cultural heritage,” said President Mnangagwa.
He also urged Zimbabwean sportspersons plying their trade abroad to join the campaign and market Zimbabwe in their countries of residence.
The President added that in anticipation of increased tourist arrivals following disruption caused by the Covid-19 pandemic, plans were underway to speedily resuscitate Air Zimbabwe including upgrading of air strips throughout the country.
There is no doubt that in the global economy, pre-Covid-19, tourism was one of the most noticeable and growing sectors. The sector plays an important role in boosting a nation’s economy.
An increase in tourism flow can bring positive economic outcomes to the nations, especially in gross domestic product (GDP) and employment opportunities. To many developing countries, the sector is an engine of economic development and GDP growth.
It is therefore prudent that every stakeholder works hard to make sure that the Visit Zimbabwe Promotion Campaign becomes a success. Its success will certainly boost other downstream industries and improve the livelihood of many people.