Covid-19 downturn: Collaborate to save jobs urges Tourism minister

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Environment, Climate, Tourism and Hospitality Industry minister, Nqobizitha Mangaliso Ndhlovu, has urged enhanced collaboration between the public and private sector, to stimulate travel demand in the local, regional and international source markets.

This comes as a number of jobs are at stake in the tourism sector due to the prolonged season of lock-down.

“Prospects for a rebound are in the horizon, more so given the decision by Government to allow intercity travel to resume,” Ndhlovu said on Monday.

He was delivering his main address on the occasion of the World Tourism Day Celebrations 2020 at Chinhoyi University of Technology.

“We are also encouraged by the opening domestic and international flights we expect to see a gradual improvement in hotel occupancies going forward,” he continued.

“I am aware that a number of jobs are at stake in the sector due to the prolonged season of lock-down, which I must stress was absolutely necessary. In order to save and secure jobs we need to enhance collaboration between the public and the private sector, to stimulate travel demand in the local, regional and international source markets.”

Ndhlovu, 40, made a clarion call to the tourism industry to come up with more packages and incentives to help stimulate tourism demand under this difficult period.

“The current situation calls for increased collaboration between and amongst all players for a better performance of the tourism sector in the last quarter of this year going forward. I also challenge the Zimbabwe Tourism Authority to coordinate industry marketing efforts designed to extensively promote domestic tourism and also to influence travel patterns by the regional and international travellers,” he said

This year’s celebration were held under the theme “Tourism and Rural Development,” a theme that acknowledged that Tourism is a powerful tool in stimulating rural development.

The event afforded academics an opportunity to input into the national tourism discourse through candid and robust research papers.

Ndhlovu assured the academic community that their presentations will go a long way in informing innovative policy ideas and solutions for the betterment of the tourism industry.

The tourism sector has been one of the hardest hit industries since the on set of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Tourism ministry has since come up with National Tourism Recovery and Growth Strategy, which was launched by President Emmerson Mnangagwa in Victoria Falls on the 6th of August 2020.

Ndhlovu noted that the recovery of the sector has started in earnest and most tourism players throughout the country have now re-opened their facilities in strict compliance with the Covid-19 Health Protocols.

“While initial assessments we have carried out through the Zimbabwe Tourism Authority, indicate that occupancy rates in most hotels are still low, I remain hopeful that the situation will improve and the numbers will pick up,” Ndhlovu said.

Meanwhile, as part of this years’ World Tourism Day Celebrations, the Tourism Ministry handed over the Kore Kore Cultural Village, to the Makonde community.

The Kore Kore Cultural Village was funded by the Zimbabwe Tourism Authority as part of the Ministry’s 100 Day projects.

“I hope the Kore Kore Cultural Village will feature prominently on the map of future tours to Chinhoyi along the triangular movement of visits to Chinhoyi Caves, and the Chinhoyi Seven Memorial Park,” Ndlovu said.

Speaking at the same event, Minister of State for Mashonaland West Provincial Affairs Mary Mliswa-Chikoka said there are key challenges affecting tourism in Mashonaland West Province key among them lack of scheduled flights to key destinations such as Kariba and poor road network.

Ndhlovu assured Mliswa-Chikoka that his Ministry will work flat out to unlock the Tourism potential of Mashonaland West Province.

“I believe that with unity of purpose the task of growing the tourism sector to a US$5 billion economy will be achievable,”Ndhlovu said.

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