Zimbabwe has one of the strictest visa conditions in the region, which in some instances require that prospective visitors apply for the travel document before they leave their respective home counties.
Speaking at the launch of the National Tourism Policy in Harare today, Mzembi said: “If we are serious about promoting tourism in the country, government should adopt policies which allow tourists to apply for visa on arrival.
“Scrapping off the visa completely would help boost the sector which has the potential to drive the economy,” Mzembi said.
Mzembi said restrictive tourism policies resulted in the country receiving fewer tourists than its neighbouring countries such as Zambia and South Africa.
According to Mzembi, while Zimbabwe hosted an average 3, 500 tourists per year, other regional countries would receive more than 100, 000 during the same period.
Zimbabweans, Mzembi noted, should desist from destructive actions like the invasion of conservancies that tended to scare away tourists.
He urged government and citizens to spare the remaining conservancies such as the Save Valley, which made a few remaining tourist attractions.
The Zimbabwean tourism sector was recently rated as the quickest source of revenue ahead of mining, agriculture and manufacturing.
The local media were blasted for scaring away tourists through their falsehood reports about ‘unfounded’ turmoil in the country.
According to goals set in the policy, Zimbabwe would record more than 3. 4 million tourist arrivals per year by 2020, up from the current 1.7 million.
The country would ‘demand’ 5 percent of the 100 million Chinese tourists who visit different countries every year.
Local tourism would be encouraged through schemes such as school, church and civil servants’ travel incentives.
Mzembi boasted about ‘peace and the good weather’ that Zimbabwe enjoyed, and said had it not been of the bad tourism policies, the country would have realised massive economic growth from the sector.
He said the launched policy document would boost the social and economic roles of tourism.
Speaking at the same occasion, Zimbabwe’s Vice President and Patron of the Zimbabwe Tourism sector, Joice Mujuru, said tourism was one of the major economic drivers of the new economic blueprint, the Zimbabwe Agenda for Sustainable Social and Economic Transformation (Zim Asset).
Mujuru said the adoption of a uni-visa, entailing unrestricted movement in the southern African region, would boost Zimbabwean tourism.
“Zimbabweans should play their part towards the development of the tourism sector by having interest in visiting places of interest around the country.
“Policies which preserve the environment have to be formulated for the country to protect features of attraction,” said Mujuru, pointing out that communities would be empowered to provide goods and services to the sector.
She said the new tourism policy would be the compass for navigation towards an effective tourism industry.
It would also ensure that Zimbabwe develops presence in emerging international economies such as the BRICS economies of Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa, among others.
The policy launch coincided with the bestowing of the Religious Tourism Destination status on the Celebration Church by the government.
Zimbabwe is basking in the glory of successfully co-hosting the United Nations World Tourism Organisation summit with neighbouring Zambia late last year.Post published in: News