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    Monday, July 8, 2024

    Independent Fund to Foster Tourism Expansion

    The government is actively pursuing the creation of a dedicated Zimbabwe Tourism Fund (ZTF) with the primary objective of fostering the growth and development of the tourism industry. This initiative aligns with the ambitious goals outlined in Vision 2030, aiming to unlock the full potential of the sector and drive its sustained success.

    During the Tourism Amendment Bill consultation workshop held in Harare on Monday, the Honorable Barbara Rwodzi, Minister of Tourism and Hospitality Industry, unveiled this information.

    Within the tourism and hospitality industry, operators are subject to a 2% revenue levy imposed by the government. These funds are deposited into the Zimbabwe tourism Fund (ZTF), currently managed by the Zimbabwe Tourism Authority (ZTA). A modernized ZTF is essential for Zimbabwe to achieve its goal of developing a tourism industry valued at a minimum of US$5 billion by the year 2025.

    The tourism industry, a crucial sector for Zimbabwe’s economy, experienced significant growth in 2022, generating $911 million compared to the $397 million recorded in 2021. Notably, the fund has had a lasting impact on Zimbabwe’s hospitality sector, particularly with the construction of the Rainbow Towers, formerly known as Sheraton, which was financed through resources from the fund when it was managed by the Zimbabwe Tourism Development Corporation (ZTDC).

    Addressing stakeholders at the workshop, Minister Rwodzi emphasized the potential benefits of establishing a standalone Zimbabwe Tourism Fund (ZTF). She highlighted that such a fund would enhance good governance, transparency, and accountability within the tourism sector. The ZTF’s financial resources would be strategically utilized to promote local tourism offerings and provide crucial support to industry players facing capital constraints. Minister Rwodzi specifically mentioned that the ZTF funding could be effectively channeled towards the refurbishment and revitalization of dilapidated tourism facilities, thereby contributing to the overall improvement of the tourism landscape in Zimbabwe.

    "It has been proposed to amend the provisions of part IV of the Tourism Act, which provides for the Zimbabwe Tourism Fund by establishing an entity responsible for its management and administration.

    "ZTF is supposed to be on its own, with its own management to ensure good governance, transparency and accountability. "We want the fund to be directed more at promotions and development of the local tourism sector. The money should also be used to help hospitality start-ups which require capital."

    The Honorable Minister Rwodzi emphasized the critical importance of adequately funding and supporting the tourism sector to ensure its operational effectiveness. He highlighted the existence of a dedicated fund aimed at assisting stakeholders in the industry. Despite this provision, the Minister expressed concern over the decline in tourism standards and called for immediate action to address this issue.

    "How come we are not expanding? We do not have a hotel that has over 200 rooms in Victoria Falls yet it is our biggest tourism city. How come there is benevolence about Bulawayo -Victoria Falls road, no road signs when tourists are paying a lot of levy in Victoria Falls

    "How come the roads leading to the mega tourist destination are not even marked, that is what that money should be used for."

    During the Tourism Amendment Bill stakeholder consultation, Dr. Takaruza Munyanyiwa, the permanent secretary for Tourism and Hospitality, emphasized the significance of knowledge and experience sharing to drive the growth of the tourism sector in Zimbabwe.

    "We remain alive to the fact that our policies and legislative instruments remain vital forces for driving sustainable development in the tourism sector. The Zimbabwe we want has defined tourism as a quick win to socio-economic development due to several positive factors which include, its ability to generate employment, contribution to the growth of Small-Medium Enterprises, its potential to attract Foreign Direct Investment, and contribution to foreign exchange.

    "It is prudent for us to bring our diverse perspectives to the amendment of our existing law and align it with our national constitution, and regional and international best practices. In doing so I therefore request your much-needed valuable input on areas that require fine-tuning for the development of our tourism industry," said Dr Munyanyiwa.

    The tourism industry presents a readily accessible opportunity for the nation to generate foreign currency and create employment. It is identified as one of the key sectors that will play a pivotal role in achieving sustainable economic growth, as outlined in the National Development Strategy 1.

    Consequently, the Second Republic has been actively promoting the advancement of the tourism and hospitality industry by formulating a comprehensive national tourism policy. This policy aims to solidify and augment the sector’s recovery, thereby optimizing economic gains concurrently.

    President Mnangagwa has significantly intensified his endeavors to foster tourism growth by recently introducing the National Tourism Recovery and Growth Strategy.

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