Zimbabwe has started the debate on how to effectively manage its natural resources by launching the Climate Change Awareness Programme.
The programme will also give guidance on how the tourism sector can run on a sustainable basis.
Tourism is one of Zimbabwe’s major foreign currency earners.
But the sector dependence on water-bodies, flora and fauna, which are all rain-fed require review and constant strategising.
Launching the programme, Minister of Environment, Climate, Tourism and Hospitality Industry Mangaliso Ndlovu said climate change will have an impact on tourism assets in the long term and there was need to try and avert the possible pitfalls.
“Tourism is a major foreign currency earner and hence require the necessary support. We do not want to remain with stranded assets in the tourism sector, after failing to heed to the climate early warning,” said Minister Ndlovu.
“I however, would want to conclude by thanking you the tourism and hospitality players for leading from the front in the drive towards sustainable tourism.”
He added that Zimbabwe is not immune to climate change problems as recent weather activity has served to highlight.
“Being a developing country located in semi-arid subtropical region, Zimbabwe is highly vulnerable to climate variability and change. Our geographic position in the path of some of the destructive climate extremes such as Tropical Cyclones, tornado-like winds and recurrence of climate induced phenomena such as prolonged droughts and heat waves puts our climate-sensitive sectors such as tourism, health and agriculture at risk.
“This meeting comes at a time when the country is still responding to the devastating impacts of one of the most sophisticated and complex Tropical Cyclone in the region’s history, Tropical Cyclone Idai.
“Some will also have no good memories of Cyclone Eline whose scars are still visible in some areas, some of which damaged tourism arteries like roads and bridges,” he said.
“The 2018/2019 and 2019/2020 agricultural seasons were also characterised by delayed onset of the season, low rainfall and prolonged dry spells resulting in low crop yields and impacts on livestock and wildlife.
“Resultantly, the country lost over 200 elephants to drought and had a number of its climate-sensitive tourism sites losing their sparkle as water levels fell in most of our major dams, rivers and waterfalls. Our prime tourist destination was not spared as the records show that it had one of the record low flows.”