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Domestic tourism low hanging fruit for sector recovering from Covid-19

16 Sep, 2020 - 00:09 0 Views

The Herald

Tawanda Musarurwa

With the gazetting of Statutory Instrument 216 of 2020 in respect of resumption of the aviation and tourism sectors, there is need to ramp up the drive to boost domestic tourism.

The Covid-19 pandemic has had a devastating impact on the travel and tourism sector, with countries across the globe closing their borders to curb the spread of the highly contagious disease. And many countries – Zimbabwe included – are yet to fully open the borders for international travel, which will continue to be a drag on tourism activity.  But last week Cabinet announced measures to slowly re-start tourism activities in the country. And SI 216 of 2020 – among other things – operationalises the resumption of the aviation sector, regulates tourism operations under the lockdown, and the special provisions for liquor licensees.

However, with international travel still constrained, domestic tourism is expected to drive the sector forward.

The Government is already working on initiatives to boost domestic tourism in the country.

From an international perspective, successful tourism destinations such as South Africa, Japan, Indonesia, Malaysia, Vietnam and Thailand tend to have a critical mass of a vibrant domestic tourism.

“In Zimbabwe, despite its potential, the domestic tourism market is yet to be fully exploited.

“Post the Covid-19 pandemic, domestic tourism is expected to provide a cushioning effect to the sector as international source markets are projected to take long to recover,” reads part of the National Tourism Recovery and Growth Strategy (2020 – 2025).

“The strategy seeks to extensively promote domestic tourism development in close collaboration with the tourism private sector. The domestic tourism campaign, will also leverage on tourist assets operated by public institutions such as the Zimbabwe National Parks and Wildlife Management Authority and the National Museums and Monuments of Zimbabwe to offer affordable and exciting products to the domestic market.”

Locally, since the resumption of tourist activity was announced last month, a number of players have been marketing to the local market.

But analysts say the issue of pricing remains a sticking point in attracting locals to tourist destinations.

Tourism players in the country should adopt competitive yield management strategies that will improve asset utilisation without resorting to pricing regimes that limit domestic tourists’ access to available products and services. The domestic tourism drive is also fundamental for markets such as Zimbabwe insofar as they still account for just a small portion of global tourism traffic.

According to the United Nations World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO), Africa accounted for just 4 percent of the international arrivals last year.

Specifically for Zimbabwe, last year tourist arrivals declined by 11 percent from 2 579 974 to 2 294 259 and tourism receipts also declined from US$1,3 billion to US$1,2 billion over the same period.

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