THE Ministry of Tourism and Hospitality Industry is lobbying the government for a one percent vote appropriation from the annual national fiscal budget in order to support tourism activities, a Cabinet minister has said.
It is expected that such vote appropriation would see the Tourism ministry getting an allocation of at least $4.4 million if calculated on the basis of Zimbabwe’s $4.1 billion National Budget for the 2016 calendar year.
Hospitality Tourism and Hospitality Industry Minister Walter Mzembi told delegates at the Zimbabwe Council for Tourism convention last week that the proposal was akin to the agreement between African agriculture ministers in Mozambique in 2003 who successfully pushed for a 10 percent fiscal allocation.
In fact, Minister Mzembi said the forthcoming first African ministers of tourism and finance would explore ways to come up with a decree for the continent that will see prescriptive national budget appropriation for tourism.
Locally, the minister said that he has already presented the proposition to President Mugabe and he expressed hope that his budgetary request would be taken on board as this would help transform the $1 billion tourism sector, which got a mere $500,000 under the 2016 national fiscal budget, in a very big way.
“The one percent I’m asking for moves us from $500,000 to $4,4 million. So try to imagine what we would do if with $500,000 we’re a $1 billion tourism economy, what do you think we would do with $4,4 million. So we’re advancing towards a budget prescription of a minimum of one percent fiscal allocation in support of tourism activities, support for national tourism policy, if that happens we’ll smile,” he said.
The minister implored players in the tourism industry to discuss ways in which they can reduce the battering on the economy from a weaker South African rand, which he said had seen Zimbabwe losing one million visitors over the last two years.
“It may not be the only reason why we’ve lost visitors from South Africa in the last two years, but clearly the rand versus the US dollar, and the US dollar itself is making this destination uncompetitive,” he added.
“I’m sure the CEO of the Zimbabwe Tourism Authority will share with you statistics in the last year and they’ll be minus this one million people, who should’ve come from SA.”
The minister said the visitors from South Africa who should have visited Zimbabwe and spent in the tourism sector did not do so because of the overly skewed exchange rate situation between the currencies.