Isdore Guvamombe Tourism Matrix
In 2010, all Government sectors were given the mandate to reflect and come up with policies that redefine the course of their primary industries and realign them with world trends.
That same year, tourism was identified as one of the pillars of the country national economic turnaround programmes and hence needed new policies.
To date, the Ministry of Tourism and Hospitality Industry has made us proud by being the only one to have successfully rebranded from Zimbabwe, Africa’s Paradise to Zimbabwe a World of Wonders and to cement that vision it has come up with a National Tourism Policy.
The National Tourism Policy launched in Harare yesterday by Vice-President Joice Mujuru is a handy blueprint meant to give the tourism and hospitality industry in Zimbabwe the much needed impetus to generate $5 billion annually by 2020.
The industry is currently generating $1 billion and with a more refined policy that is implemented at all level, there is no doubt that the vision will be achieved.
The policy is meant to transform the sector into one of the highest earners in terms of revenue generation and given the way the ministry has performed under Minister Walter Mzembi, the future is bright.
It was crafted after consultations between the Ministry of Tourism and Hospitality Industry, Zimbabwe Tourism Authority, Zimbabwe Council for Tourism and the academia.
The policy is a revision of a policy produced during the inclusive Government and passed by Cabinet in 2012. It has made it clear that tourism is government-led, but private sector-driven.
The policy will treat the whole country as tourism development zones and looks at other tourism opportunities such as religious, agro, industry, township and mining tourism to lure tourists and grow the sector contribution to total revenue.
The colourful launch at Celebration Centre should be read properly. It is indeed in sync with one of the pillars of the national tourism policy, religious tourism.
There are people in churches today than in any gathering. Even the just ended World Cup did not attract as many people to its stadiums as the number of people attracted to churches every Sunday.
That is where the people are and Zimbabwe needs to come up with strategies to harness earnings from that sector.
The world over, religious tourism is contributing a significant chunk to global tourism arrivals. The pilgrimage to Mecca is one such example and so is the Ramadan.
Out of the 1,1 billion global tourism arrivals recorded in 2013, religious and faith-based tourism brought in 300 million and that is a huge chunk.
Zimbabwe now needs to demonstrate the significance of the church as a market. Tapping into religious tourism, the country will not become a net loser as is currently the case, where nothing is coming out of it, yet we can ride on that and attract the world to our local prophets.
Another aspect coming out of the NTP is regional marketing and promotion of tourist resorts. Each region or province of the country is a tourism hub.
The policy also provides for the enshrinement of liberation struggle battles and events. History of a bigger part of tourism! In the past, Zimbabwe has been failing to turn the various venues of liberation war battles into tourist attractions.
Last but not least is rebranding of the various ruins dotted around the country into ancient cities. Ruins suggest abandonment while ancient cities, give them the contemporary importance of historical times.
When well packaged, the ancient cities can help the country realise much needed revenue.
Everything having been said and done, the National Tourism Policy needs to be implemented. As blueprint alone it is not enough, no matter how good and polished it is.