Walter Nyamukondiwa in Madrid, SPAIN
THE United Nations World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO) has endorsed policy interventions by the New Dispensation led by President Mnangagwa for giving traction to the recovery and growth of the tourism industry.
This comes as the country’s rating as a destination of choice has improved, with most reviews placing Zimbabwe at the pinnacle of the most alluring destinations in Africa and the world for 2019.
UNWTO has also pledged to continue offering technical and logistical support to promote the growth of the tourism industry in the country.
In an interview on the sidelines of the ongoing Madrid Tourism Fair (FITUR) here yesterday, UNWTO Secretary-General Mr Zurab Pololikashvili said there were positive signs and strides under the New Dispensation.
“We are following and looking forward to the development of the tourism sector in Zimbabwe and we are working closely with the Minister (of Environment,
Tourism and Hospitality Industry Prisca Mupfumira) and the Ministry,” he said.
“I think you are doing very well after the changes of the Government and we are committed to start from the first page and we are preparing a strategic plan for the African continent and Zimbabwe.”
Minister Mupfumira joined over 20 other ministers of tourism from the African continent during Investour, a tourism and business forum for Africa.
UNWTO Africa Department director Mrs Elcia Grandcourt said Zimbabwe made great strides in 2018 in fostering the growth of tourism and has brighter prospects in 2019.
“We are very pleased that Zimbabwe is participating once again at Investour, which is a very important tourism business investment forum,” she said.
“Zimbabwe is a country that is doing very well in terms of tourism. Last year we saw the numbers go up and with the recent changes that has been happening, it is a sector that is very promising.”
Mrs Grandcourt said several workshops, conferences and technical assistance were lined up to support the growth of tourism in Zimbabwe and Africa.
She said a ministerial conference for Ministers of Transport and Tourism was set for Cape Verde in March to find ways to improve inter and intra-regional travel in Africa.
This is part of the road map under the African Agenda on Tourism to support the growth of the sector.
This comes as tourism grew seven percent on the continent in 2018, with projected moderate growth this year.
Government expects tourism contribution to GDP to increase from the current 7 percent to 10 percent.
The sector is expected to collect $1 billion in revenue this year and to attract 2,7 million tourists.
FITUR 2019 opened on Wednesday with about 10 500 companies exhibiting.
About 165 countries, including Zimbabwe, are exhibiting at one of the biggest fairs for the Iberian market in the Spanish capital of Madrid.
The fair was marginally affected by an ongoing strike by taxi drivers pressing for improved conditions of service.
The growth in tourism has been anchored on stronger economic growth, more affordable air travel, technological changes, new businesses models and greater visa facilitation around the world.
Strong sentiments from major magazines and reviewers saw National Geographic Magazine ranking Zimbabwe ninth on the world’s must see destinations for 2019.
This was the highest rating for any African country by the United States-based magazine.
Japan also recently joined experts and magazines in endorsing the country as the best tourist destination, while travel guide book publisher, Lonely Planet of
Australia, named Zimbabwe third in the countries set to capture travellers’ imagination in 2019 behind Sri Lanka and Germany.