Golden Sibanda Senior Business Reporter
The Zimbabwe Tourism Authority has blamed the poor marketing of the country as a prime tourist destination on acute shortage of funds saying only $50 000 has been received from Treasury so far this year. ZTA chief executive Mr Karikoga Kaseke said in an interview that the authority was this year allocated a mere $2,2 million by Treasury against $35 million request it had made for its activities.
As such, Mr Kaseke said that the country has struggled to market itself to attract even half the tourist arrivals it received at the peak of the sector’s performance in the late 1990s.
He said the tourism authority, apart from marketing the country, also required huge financial resources to monitor and regulate players in the tourism and hospitality industry.
The allocated amount contrasts sharply with what regional countries spend on promoting tourism annually.
“ZTA does not compete with anyone in the country, we compete with South Africa, we compete with Malawi, Botswana and we (also) compete with Mozambique,” he said.
For instance, Mr Kaseke said South Africa’s tourism mother body was given $110 million in 2012 while regional agencies were each allocated $10 million for their activities.
Zimbabwe was allocated $2,5 million for 2013, but ended up getting only $1,4 million while only $50 000 has been received out of the $2,2 million earmarked for tourism in 2014.
“We had requested $35 million for 2014, far less than the total given to South Africa, Botswana, Namibia or Zambia. We want to go back we were in 1999,” Mr Kaseke said.
According to the Ministry of Tourism and Hospitality Industry, the tourism sector is on course to contributing 15 percent, from 6,5 percent, to the country’s gross domestic product this year.
Treasury has struggled to mobilise resources to support all deserving sectors of the economy with only $4,1 billion revenue projected this year. However, almost 73 percent of the funds will go to recurrent expenditure, especially civil servants salaries.
Tourism is one of the country’s four main economic pillars and is considered to, generally, have low hanging fruits for the successful turnaround of the domestic economy