The Sunday News
Sharon Chimenya, Masvingo Correspondent
THE effects of Covid-19 continue to weigh down on the tourism sector in the country amid revelations that the activity was last year pegged down to the figures of 30 years ago.
Speaking during the World Tourism Day Academic Symposium at Great Zimbabwe University (GZU) on Thursday last week, Environment, Climate, Tourism and Hospitality Industry Minister Nqobizitha Mangaliso Ndlovu said due to Covid-19 the tourism performance dropped to lows of 1991. He said the pandemic has battered the global tourism industry threatening thousands of jobs and limiting travels.
“Closer to home a total of 639 356 tourist arrivals were registered in the country during the year 2020. This figure is nearly 1,7 million less than the highest figure recorded to date which was in 2019. For the current year our arrivals are still very low with only 486 489 arrivals having being recorded during the first quarter of the year,” he said.
“In 2020 tourist arrivals performance was as low as that recorded in 1991 thus taking the sector 30 years back as it were. This obviously calls for stakeholders and experts in the sector including the academia to close ranks and share ideas hence this programme is part of that engagement process.”
Minister Ndlovu encouraged the local players to tap into the tourism industry and take advantage of numerous opportunities that have been created by Government to support investment of the tourism sector. He said through the new tourism products the industry has garnered more than US$97 million despite the effects of Covid-19.
“I want to commend the tourism players who have remained resolute and resilient in the wake of Covid-19 pandemic which has seen us defy all odds to register tourism investment with more than US$97,6 million from January 2021 to date in new tourism products. I have no doubt that our sector will emerge stronger and ready to grow.”
GZU Vice-Chancellor Professor Rungano Zvobgo said the symposium was part of efforts to restart the tourist industry.
“This tourism symposium is part of the efforts to restart tourism and kick-start recovery. This year’s theme ‘Tourism for Inclusive Growth’ is quite apologetic and relevant. The emphasis of this year’s theme is that no one should be left behind as we restart tourism, our youths, our women and all communities should join hands through various forms of partnerships so that through tourism we are able to achieve the sustainable development goals,” he said.