The minister of Tourism and Hospitality Engineer Walter Mzembi has said the National Tourism Master Plan aimed at guiding tourism product development in the country is the right move towards marketing the brand ‘Zimbabwe’.
Speaking at the plan’s stakeholders’ sensitisation workshop held at a local hotel in Harare last week, Mzembi said the master plan is a step in the right direction towards promoting Zimbabwe as a destination of choice by shaping developmental aspirations starting at local level.
The plan identifies key points in domesticating tourism benefits based on diversification, infrastructural, manpower development, community participation, preservation of our nature, culture, and heritage as key elements.
He said, his hope is now that, everyone will have a clear understanding of where the sector is coming from and urges participants to work together towards a common goal of tourism industry’s rapid growth and success within the context of increasing tourist arrivals and income.
“The National Tourism Master has gone beyond identifying our traditional tourism sites and went further to identify other zones with the potential for tourism development across our ten provinces of the country,” said Mzembi.
The minister noted that during the colonial era, tourism used to take place in a constricted band along the Zambezi basin mostly, in Victoria Falls, Kariba, Mana Pools and other few selected areas, a notion that the master plan seeks to correct.
“The Master Plan has identified new growth frontiers of Tourism in all the provinces and what needs to be done to grow the tourism cake.
“We do not doubt the nugget status of Victoria Falls as a tourist destination, but we have taken an overall growth strategy that of new growth frontiers in all provinces anchored on geographical spread of tourists from our tourism nuggets,” he added.
The master plan has in total identified 11 Tourism Development Zones identified including how the sector can make communities benefit from this growing tourism industry.
The minister added that the Master Plan will not be complete if it does not find its way into provincial development and Local Authority Plans. “The major weakness in the past, as we discovered during the data gathering stage of this Master Plan has been the lack of mainstreaming of Tourism into provincial and local authority plans,” said Mzembi.
The master plan come at a time the now only booming sector in the economy tries to redefine the way forward in promoting domestic tourism. On the international arena, Zimbabwe has recently earned bad reputation for itself owing to ill treatment of visitors particularly by the country’s police force, on top of its bad global image as a result of alleged human rights abuses.