Golden Sibanda Senior Business Reporter
TOURISM and Hospitality Minister Walter Mzembi has targeted to attract at least 2 million visitors from the 200 million outbound Chinese travellers into Zimbabwe by 2020. Minister Mzembi said on Friday that he had set a target of attracting at least 1 percent of the 200 million outbound Chinese tourists projected in six years’ time. Minister Mzembi said this while addressing a Zimbabwe Defence Forces contingent at his offices. He said the plan was part of wider efforts to recapture visitors from major traditional source markets.
The minister said Government was working on various initiatives to grow the tourism sector into a $5 billion economy by 2020.
Zimbabwe generated $793 million from tourism in 2013. Minister Mzembi said had the sector not been affected by negative publicity, it would be worth $12 billion.
The tourism minister said that the groundwork had already been laid through upgrading of memoranda of understanding with China to a bilateral agreement.
Minister Mzembi said China had general MoUs of co-operation with more than 149 countries, hence the inevitable need for firmer commitments to co-operation.
The minister said the bilateral agreement was signed during a recent Government delegation’s visit to the People’s Republic of China, led by President Mugabe, in August.
During the visit Minister Mzembi met with Chinese Prime Minister Wang Yi.
“I took it to Prime Minister Wang (Yi) and said why do I have only 5 500 and he said I am your ideological friend,” Minister Mzembi said. “I said I would like 1 percent share from China’s (outbound tourists) by 2020 from the 200 million.”
According to the United Nations World Tourism Organisation, Chinese outbound tourists stood slightly over 100 million in 2013 and their growth is exponential.
Minister Mzembi said that with regards transforming the bilateral agreement to action with tangible results “what is left is only for people to walk the talk”.
He said that was against the realisation that out of the hundreds of thousands of Chinese visitors to Africa Zimbabwe was receiving the least number.
Latest statistics of Chinese outbound tourist arrivals in Africa in 2013 show that Zimbabwe received a mere 5 500 visitors compared to 145 000 for South Africa, Ethiopia 128 800, Algeria 83 000, Tanzania 38 868 and Kenya 44 270.