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Officials hold talks to bolster tourism

A United Nations World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO) official last week held discussions with the government on the Tourism Assistance programme for Zimbabwe.

BY KUDZAI CHIMHANGWA

Government and the Zimbabwe Tourism Authority (ZTA) are presently working towards promoting the country’s tourism brand name, “A World of Wonders”, after the product suffered setbacks brought about by negative international perceptions on Zimbabwe.

UNWTO director of technical cooperation, Harsh Varma held an initial closed door meeting with the permanent secretary in the Ministry of Tourism and Hospitality Industry, Margaret Mukahanana-Sangarwe, followed by consultations with other stakeholders.

Varma arrived on Tuesday and left on Thursday.

The Standard understands a decision was made to first take up the complete spatial planning for two Tourism Development Zones at Kariba and Masvingo, as financial resources were still being mobilised for the Tourism Master Plan.

The plan envisages an increase in Zimbabwe’s tourist arrivals from 2,2 million to five million in two years’ time.

It is understood that these two projects could be developed as quick-win projects for showcasing before the UNWTO General Assembly scheduled for August this year.

Several aspects related to the spatial planning process for the two projects include overall physical planning of the two tourism zones, specifying the tourism resources, detailed area demarcation, a comprehensive inventory of tourism resources, their qualitative assessment and a detailed marketing strategy bringing out the unique features of each zone.

Varma and ministry officials deliberated on ideas for product development and product diversification based on qualitative assessment of tourism resources, as well as a framework for organising an Investors Forum for attracting domestic and overseas investments in tourism-related projects.

Planning process targets rural tourism

Central to the spatial planning process was the development of community-based and rural tourism in both the zones.

This would include identification of communities, development of a programme of homesteads, involvement of women and youth, promotion of arts and craft, local cuisine, festivals and other activities.

It was agreed that the formulation of a five-year implementation action plan for the key performance areas, actions and outcomes was imperative.

The cost, time frames and responsibilities for executing the action plan would also be clearly specified.
It was noted that the endeavour would be to initiate implementation of the project by the end of March and complete it by mid-July this year.

It was also agreed that consultants at national level with expertise in the field of tourism would be utilised while also deploying international consultants in some disciplines so as to give project outcomes an international flavour, based on the best practices and success stories from other destinations.

A budget of US$210 000 was drawn up for international consultants, while other charges and expenses brought the grand total to US$301 400.

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