Biti lend your ear to tourism industry
Friday, 13 April 2012 00:00
Isdore Guvamombe Tourism Matrix
When a nation is hosting a mega international event like the 2013 United Nations World Tourism Organisation general assembly, national pride is at stake. In general finance people are normally strict and insensitive to event that splash
money out of the national fiscus but there is need to know that there is a lot to gain in hosting such an event than make it a failure.
In Zimbabwe, where the tourism sector has been the fastest growing outside mining and is one of the four pillars of the country’s economic turnaround programme, it is surprising that Finance Minister Tendai Biti has not been forthcoming about funding this sector.
As we speak, it goes without saying that all the big achievements that the industry has made in the past two years have been out of mainly exclusive effort by the Zimbabwe Tourism Authority, Ministry of Tourism and Hospitality Industry and the industry itself.
With the same level of funding or just 30 percent of what other sectors like agriculture were allocated, the tourism industry should have performed far much better than it has done.
Each time there is a meeting of stakeholders in the tourism industry, it has emerged that there is an outcry over lack of funding, especially from the fiscus.
Tourism is the face of Zimbabwe, the first port of call and a real issue when it come to shaping the image of this country.
The hosting of the UNWTO general assembly is the greatest endorsement of Zimbabwe by the international community after an illegal sanctions regime and is therefore very import for the Ministry of Finance to support, without even being pressured.
One feels pity for Tourism Minister Walter Mzembi and ZTA boss Karikoga Kaseke, each time there is a meeting as the story of under-funding has become almost a song.
There are fears that unless the Presidium cracks the whip at Minister Biti, the UNWTO general assembly hosting will be a difficult affair.
In Zambia word is that things are moving smoothly while we need to speed up our own processes this side.
Many people would wonder why I point a finger at Minister Biti but those who attended the last assessment by the UNWTO in Victoria Falls in the last weekend of February, will tell you that for a whole week, they went on empty stomachs. The Ministry of Finance failed to release a cent for the upkeep of the Zimbabwean team that spent the week in Victoria Falls.
The delegates, were for a week, turned into a basket case and up to now have not been reimbursed of their personal funds they ended up using.
This writer had to personally host many journalists from the small newspapers who were at the point of starvation, simply because the stories they would then write would damage the cause, in the presence of UNWTO inspectors.
Such kind of financial management often proves a public relations disaster since delegates were booked for bed and breakfast only.
Lunch and supper times really gave the youthful ladies handling the delegates problems. At the end one would feel pity for them. It was never their fault. It was the Ministry of Finance that had not released the money but the job had to be done.
This is just a tip of the iceberg, much is happening in the tourism industry that it is better for Minister Biti to lend his ear to the sector.
More problems can easily be resolved if the Minister takes just a few minutes of his time consider this industry. It is a critical and crucial industry.