By Tafanana Kwedu
In a move expected to boost domestic tourism, players have agreed to come up with special packages for locals and joint promotions for various tourism destinations in bid to revive the sector, amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Hospitality Association of Zimbabwe (HAZ), recently, held a Tourism Stakeholders Interface Webinar to support and intensify the resuscitation of the country's domestic tourism in line with government’s post COVID-19 Tourism Growth and Recovery Strategy.
A cross section of stakeholders from the tourism industry value chain together with the Zimbabwe Tourism Authority (ZTA) participated in the webinar.
ZTA Domestic Tourism and Strategic Research Director, Sophie Zirebwa said the country's tourism board was delighted and encouraged by efforts being made by the tourism sector to develop and increase the prospects of domestic tourism in the country.
"To us this is a positive development, seeing the industry is eager to work with the tourism board in developing the domestic tourism. In particular, the much-needed business improvement in the leisure side of domestic tourism," she said.
Zirebwa said the tourism players proposed solutions and timelines to boost domestic tourism arrivals.
"One of the proposals that came up was for players to cooperate and collaborate in terms of creating packages, which are price sensitive for the local market," she said.
"Another issue that also came through and important was the need for operators to come together and roll out an awareness campaign, as they promote domestic tourism," she said.
HAZ President, Clive Chinwada said the meeting also resolved to come up with a bundle of tourism value chain activities including transport, accommodation and activities in various destinations.
"These packages must suit every pocket and encourage tourism industry value chain players to work together for survival as well as to ensure the competitiveness of destination Zimbabwe," he said.
Tourism Business Council of Zimbabwe President, Winnie Muchanyuka commented on the need to abandon the fragmented approach, if domestic tourism is going to be uplifted.
"We have been fragmented, we need to collaborate more. We need to continue working together as stakeholders in the sector. To be honest, ZTA has done its best to lead with messaging but we as players have been lagging behind on complimenting their efforts," she said.
Tourism is Zimbabwe’s the fastest growing sector and is recognized as a “low hanging fruit”. For the year 2018, the sector contributed 7.2% to the Gross Domestic Product, with tourist arrivals reaching the 2,579,974 mark, which is a 6% increase from 2017.
Domestic tourism if promoted is more sustainable in that it is not affected by trans-border issues like the current lockdowns. Those within a district can still access tourism facilities in their area, for instance those in Hwange district can still visit Hwange National Park and the Victoria Falls.