Zimbabwe could be tourism jewel – PM Cde Mugabe

The Herald November 23, 1985

TOURISM to Zimbabwe is increasing, and the Government wants to make the country the “tourist jewel of Africa”, the Prime Minister, Cde Mugabe, said yesterday.

Opening the Harare Sheraton Hotel which is wholly-owned by the Government, he said the Government gave high priority to the tourist industry and the need to meet the requirements of Zimbabwe’s increasing role in international affairs, especially as a centre for international seminars, conferences and workshops.

“We are equally aware that tourist resources and attractions alone without a supportive hotel industry cannot yield the income, foreign especially the currency which we could earn from the foreign visitors to our country.”

The Government wanted to involve itself in the hotel industry to provide visitors with the quality of services and hospitality that would stand in good light within the international tourist community.

“Our aim is to make Zimbabwe the Jewel of Africa and to make the Harare Sheraton Hotel a home away from home for all our visitors.”

He said 339 598 visitors came to Zimbabwe last year, an increase of 12 percent over the previous year. An estimated 360 000 international travellers would visit the country this year and possibly 438 000 in 1986.

The country earned $38,6 million from tourism last year and was expected to make $50 million this year.

“Several significant measures therefore have been put in place to take advantage of the easing of the recession and ensure the orderly growth and development of our tourism industry.”

Cde Mugabe noted the hotel had been completed in a record 23 months one month ahead of schedule.

Thanking the contractors, Energoprojekt, and sub-contractors, the Prime Minister said the award of the contract to a Yugoslav firm was a political decision based upon “our belief that our allies during the liberation struggle should not end their friendship with us at the point of our independence”.

“Those who helped us win our independence should be invited to involve themselves in the consolidation of the independence which they helped to yield.”

The Government obtained the services of Sheraton Management Corporation for the hotel to reach international standards in hotel management and to win a place in international tourism development.

The Minister of Natural Resources and Tourism, Cde Victoria Chitepo, said several Zimbabweans were undergoing training to take higher management posts.

The opening was attended by the president of the Sheraton Management Corporation Mr John Kapillotas, the Deputy Prime Minister Cde Simon Muzenda, several Cabinet ministers, diplomats and MPs.

LESSONS FOR TODAY

  • The Harare International Conference Centre (now under Rainbow Towers Group) is arguably the country’s biggest conference venue and was one of the key projects that was undertaken by the  Government following the country’s independence.
  • The imposing facility has a main conferencing auditorium with a sitting capacity of 4 500 and indoor floor space of 5 000 square metres which can host up to 128 exhibition stands.
  • This venue has hosted a lot of prominent international conferences, foreign heads of state and prominent music super stars over the years.

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