ENVIRONMENT, Tourism and Hospitality Industry ministry has concluded an agreement with the United Nations World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO) for support of a conservation and tourism project in the northwestern parts of Zimbabwe which will unlock funding for the construction of a community viewing platform.
The agreement which will see UNWTO provide funding to the tune of USD 100 000 for the project is one of various agreements sealed this week in St.Petersburg – Russia’s second-largest city after Moscow – where acting Minister of Environment,Tourism and Hospitality Industry Mangaliso Ndhlovu is representing the sector.
Speaking on the sidelines of the summit in Russia, Ndhlovu said the platform accords tourism leaders an opportunity to discuss the key issues facing the sector which has become a key driver of economic development and social transformation.
Ndlovu said Zimbabwe would continue leveraging on this global network to fund community projects, giving traction to the recovery and growth of the tourism industry.
The UNWTO provides both technical and financial support to Member States, including developing countries like Zimbabwe, in terms of policy planning and product development.
“Being part of a global tourism family is good for Zimbabwe, as this affords us a rare opportunity to meet at that multilateral level with other leading countries in terms of tourism development,” Ndlovu said.
“In fact, the UNWTO General Assembly is a principal gathering of all the 158 Member States to decide and agree on policies and strategies that grow and drive global tourism to another level. It is, therefore, imperative that as a young and emerging tourist destination, Zimbabwe be part of such global platforms so that she is able to tell her narrative and project abundant tourist resources we are so richly endowed with.”
The summit, the most important high-level event for the global tourism sector, saw Zimbabwe adopt and approve “the first ever Global Convention Framework on Tourism Ethics” a statutory instrument that will regulate all tourism players and stakeholders in developing and promoting responsible tourism at national level.
“This instrument, further protects small and weak countries trying to develop their tourism sectors, like most of our countries in the developing world, from unwarranted travel advisories and warnings from the developed nations, who constitute major tourist source markets,” Ndlovu said.
The instrument provides mechanisms for dialogue and consultations between and with countries that will be affected by these travel warnings that tend to limit travel to affected destinations.
“We are also pleased that the General Assembly has approved a 300 000 Euro to support a Ten point Plan to promote Tourism in Africa and Zimbabwe will also ride on that programme to enhance its tourism sector,” Ndlovu said.
“Technically, Zimbabwe will definitely benefit from the development of our Tourism Satellite Account system, an approved instrument that is used to correctly collect and collate tourism data so as to ensure that we have proper and credible tourism statistics, important information for effective planning by Government.”
“The Ministry of Environment, Tourism and Hospitality Industry is already in advanced stages of working out a plan on this issue with the UNWTO.”
Ndlovu further said he would like to see more collaborations with the UNWTO and other countries with well developed tourism sector, so that Zimbabwe is able to set benchmarks and developmental trajectory for the country’s tourism industry.
“The focus of our policy thrust should be to develop a robust Domestic Tourism, upon which international tourism should anchor,” he said, adding:
“New marketing strategies, digitization, innovation and information technology, is the way to go.”
Zimbabwe received 2,5 million visitors in 2018 against 2,4 million in 2017.
The southern African nations is projecting to double that figure by 2030, bidding to grow tourism towards contributing to Zimbabwe’s vision 2030.