Acting Tourism and Hospitality Industry minister Mangaliso Ndlovu has urged the government to allocate adequate funds in next year’s budget to resuscitate the tourism industry which suffered a 3% decline in the first half of the year.

By Nokuthaba Dlamini

Speaking at a pre-budget meeting in Victoria Falls yesterday, Ndlovu said tourism hubs like Victoria Falls needed adequate water supply, proper sanitation and uninterrupted electricity supplies.

“We need to establish an enabling tourism business environment with modern technologies, modern ports of entry, water and sanitation and energy so that in the process of rebranding our country, all systems are put in place,” he said.

MDC Mashonaland West proportional representation MP, Concillia Chinanzvavana said on top of providing adequate resources, there was need to make tourism destinations more affordable.

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“The visa system remains partially computerised. Government needs to expedite the whole system so that our visitors spend less time queueing to enter the country as this impact negatively on the visitor’s experience,” she said.

“There is also need to reduce the average time taken to process a tourist visa by opening more processing counters. The e-visa platform still faces teething challenges and needs upgrading so that it is easily accessed by tourists from different source markets.”

Chinanzvavana said foreign visitors were finding it difficult to buy goods and pay for services due to shortage of cash.

“Curio market vendors do not have international point of sale (POS) machines. This implies that we are limiting tourist expenditure into the economy. The government through the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe needs to ensure cash availability in bureaus, especially in our tourism hubs. The RBZ should also improve the availability of international POS machines,” she said.

“Fuel shortages affect the tourism operators’ ability to offer all-inclusive packages within the destination. Statutory Instrument 212 of 2019 is making it difficult to charge for future bookings to locals due to the inflationary environment while commissioning of the Zimdollar is not yet internationalised to allow for the conversion to other currencies.”

Hospitality and tourism establishments reportedly pay for 22 licences administered by 13 different agencies, hence the need to harmonise and reduce duplication.

“Government must create a one-stop shop for the multiple licensing and decentralise taxes and permits within the sector. The current system contradicts the ease of doing business and is expensive, thus government should consolidate a myriad of taxes that are making the destination uncompetitive,” Chinanzvavana said.

“Hotels are being charged individual television licences as per the Broadcasting Services Act (Chapter 12:06). All this, coupled with excess power outages in the country are heavily impacting negatively on business operations in terms of overhead costs and inconveniences which are creating negative perceptions about the destination.”

Chinanzvavana said Victoria Falls International Airport facilities must be upgraded continually to increase access to Zimbabwe by international airlines.