Ailing Masvingo Tourism Pins Hope On Festive Season

By Johannes Chin’ombe

MASVINGO, December 15, 2015 – Players in the tourism sector say they
remain hopeful of a boom in the leisure business this festive period
despite a worrying decline in tourist visits during the first half of
the year.

Tourism authorities in the area have reported a significant drop from
last year’s 10 411 visits between January and June, to this year’s 9

However, Zimbabwe Tourism Authority (ZTA) area manager Daniel Mampande
said the sector anticipated better fortunes during the festive season
spurred by an anticipated increase in tourist visits.

“We are expecting a general improvement as the other years’ statistics
have always shown that visits improve towards and during the festive
season,” Mampande told RadioVOP last week.

“We are even expecting the industry to flourish and exceed last year’s
visits as a lot of new entertaining things have been put in place to
attract visitors during the season.”

Although the sector expects to leverage profits through the Great
Zimbabwe ruins, one of the country’s most popular attractions, there
are still several other archaic structures and historic sites in areas
surrounding Masvingo city to catch the fancy of any visitor.

National Museums and Monuments of Zimbabwe representative, Munyaradzi
Sagiya was equally upbeat, urging holiday-makers to visit area for
what he found to be some of the most delightful tourism experiences.

“The festive season usually records high business as compared to any
other time of the year,” he said.

“So because of that, we have lined up several activities … but worth
noting is we are almost through with renovating our properties that
had been gutted in fire recently,” Sagiya disclosed.

Sagiya was referring to a fire incident this year which damaged Great
Zimbabwe lodges.

He allayed fears visitors may encounter accommodation problems and
urged “everyone to come and experience the best of the festive season
with us”.

Despite the optimism displayed by the two tourism officials, the mood
was different elsewhere.

Regency Group of Hotels CEO, Edison Zvobgo said since the country’s
economic fortunes took a knock during the past few years, disposable
incomes have declined with most preferring to spend on necessities
than leisure.

“Since the economic meltdown in 2008,” he said, “I cannot say things
have really been normal.

“We however strive to make profits from the festive season but alas,
it is not the normal tourism business as I know it.

“Of late, we would have a lot of tourists booking for their annual
boat tournament but that has since vanished.”

The tournament, usually held at Lake Mutirikwi, was a big cash cow to
the tourism business in the area.

Limas Tekeshe, a sculptor who plies his trade at Masvingo Craft
Centre, lamented the decline in tourist visits saying most of their
handiwork has on the stalls for the whole year.

“Tourists are nowhere to be found,” he said.

“Most of the stuff on these stalls have been around for close to a
year now whereas in normal cases, they do not even last more than a

“We are aiming to make some money during the festive season but it is
not promising at all.”

An academic from Great Zimbabwe University’s Faculty of Culture and
Heritage proffered a more scholarly view to the crisis, further urging
players in the ailing industry to be much more innovative than ever to
lure back excursionists to the area.

“The historic sites like Great Zimbabwe Monuments have been with the
same old look since independence,” he said.

“All they have done is repainting their structures but in terms of
rebranding; none has been done.”

The academic feels stakeholders should, among some of their new
inventions, create accommodation structures that resemble the

“It is the unique architecture of the monuments that attracts so an
imitative structure, hotel in particular, would endlessly attract

“This is from the basis that many visitors have experienced better
hotels that the Great Zimbabwe Hotel might want to imitate so it
becomes boring for them to visit places that do not match standards
they know, standards of the first world countries at most.”