Efforts by the New Dispensation and the private sector to revive the country’s tourism have been well noted by the international community, an indication that so far so good given the circumstances fronted by the Covid-19 pandemic.
This is despite attempts by some Western countries to sideline Zimbabwe from the international community through measures such as sanctions and others.
Zimbabwe remains vigilant and steadfast.
The country’s strategies to offset the effects of Covid-19 on the tourism sector have even attracted the support of the United Nations World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO), the World Bank (WB) and Japan.
The UNWTO was particularly leading efforts in measuring the potential of the local tourism sector in national economic development.
UNWTO director for Africa, Elcia Grandcourt commented, “We are delighted to work again with Zimbabwe in this important endeavour. We are committed to supporting the Government in providing clear data that can help guide key decisions for tourism’s recovery and growth.”
The international stakeholders have now committed to help Zimbabwe in developing the country’s first Tourism Satellite Account (TSA), a tool aimed at measuring tourism’s contribution to the economy.
Furthermore, the tool is expected to aid policy-makers in formulating evidence-based policies for a sustainable and resilient tourism industry post Covid-19 to benefit players, government and communities.
The World Bank’s International Finance Corporation (IFC), together with the Government of Japan, is providing technical support towards the four-year Zimbabwe Destination Development Programme.
The initiative is aimed at saving jobs in the tourism sector in the wake of dwindling arrivals and earnings.
The New Dispensation’s active support of the tourism sector pre and post-Covid-19 is bearing fruit as evidenced by the high level global support the country is attracting in rebuilding tourism.
Initiatives that charmed the international community include the vaccination campaign that achieved Victoria Falls herd immunity in April, which was led by President Mnangagwa.
This was a first in the tourism industry in the world and other countries are emulating the example. Furthermore, the Covid-19 vaccine that the country has offered to tourists raised Zimbabwe’s tourism status, attracting multi-stakeholder support.
Zimbabwe is a former top contender for the UNWTO’s secretary general’s post and co-hosted the organisation’s 20th General Assembly in 2013.
In light of this latest development, the country must seriously consider contesting the same post basking in the achievements made to date amidst the Covid-19 pandemic. Whereas the average employment potential of the Southern African Development Community (SADC) was 7.1 percent in 2012, Zimbabwe had been employing 8.7 percent of its workers in this sector, reflecting the importance the industry to national development.
Regardless of the impressive employment record, the country still has underutilised capacity in the industry, hence the drive to develop the industry to a US$2 billion industry by 2024.
The coming in of the New Dispensation in 2017, ushered a record $1,4 billion earnings from tourism in 2018, showing the global goodwill the new Government towed, according to the Zimbabwe Tourism Authority.
However, the huge drop to $359 million in 2020 as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic on travel and tourism.