from OBERT SIAMILANDU in Kariba, Zimbabwe
KARIBA, (CAJ News) – MORE than US$56 million the Zimbabwean government has invested in the tourism industry in Mashonaland West province, post-pandemic appears to be money down the drain.
This is much to the concern of authorities who are dissatisfied with the return of investment.
Nqobizitha Mangaliso Ndlovu, the Minister of Environment, Climate, Tourism and Hospitality, disclosed the government had invested over US$18,49 million in 2021 and in excess of $37,66 million in 2022 to revive the sector.
That was at the height of the COVID-19 pandemic.
“I am aware of many other projects at various development stages but the province has not been doing well in terms of tourism investments,” the minister said of Mashonaland West.
“Much can be done in this province,” said Ndlovu, who implored local authorities in Mashonaland West to work with his ministry and the Zimbabwe Tourism Authority (ZTA) in facilitating the addition of more rooms and in the development of ancillary facilities like conferencing facilities.
“We need this if we are to transform the region into a destination of choice for both leisure and business travellers,” he added as he addressed delegates in the iconic town of Kariba, north of the country towards Zambia.
Ndlovu urged players in the tourism sector to work with other stakeholders including Environmental Management Agency, Immigration, Lake Navigation, Zimbabwe Revenue Authority (ZIMRA) and police to transform and bring back the region to its past tourism glory.
The minister noted tourism was the main economic activity in the region, sustaining livelihoods for many households.
“We therefore need to support the sector in the region to not only realise its full potential, but to also grow through the diversification of tourism products,” according to Ndlovu.
He said Mashonaland West, one of Zimbabwe’s ten provinces, had the potential of a competitive tourism destination locally, regionally and internationally.
“Additionally, destination competitive advantage is boosted by basic elements such as tourism infrastructure and transport networks. More importantly, it is legendary in a number of respects,” Winnie Muchanyuka, ZTA Chief Executive Officer.
In Kariba Dam, the province boasts the largest man-made water reservoir.
Chinhoyi, the provincial capital, is revered for its being the epicentre of the war that freed the then Rhodesia from colonialism by the British.
Muchanyuka bewailed the decline in tourism in Kariba and the country in entirety over the past two decades of political and economic challenges.
– CAJ News