By Itai Muzondo
Masvingo holds some of the most celebrated tourist attractions in Zimbabwe notably the Great Zimbabwe Monuments and Lake Mutirikwi. These tourist magnetisms have however been reportedly losing touch amid the fact that they have at once been the most popular visit sites by tourists who visit Zimbabwe creating harbours of economic prowess in the otherwise slowly degrading tourism industry.
On national basis, Mzembi in 2014 said Chinese tourists shun Zimbabwe which was more or less of a mockery of the government’s look east policy as he noted that the country accounts for only six percent of the Chinese tourists visiting Southern Africa annually which is roughly about 5 000 tourists for which he said he was pushed to strike deals and persuade them to make Zimbabwe their tourist destination.
“The SADC region on average is receiving between 70 000 and 80 000 Chinese tourists per annum. I refer to Zambia, South Africa and other countries in the region including Mozambique. It is however extremely unfortunate that Zimbabwe which prides itself as an all-weather friend of the Chinese is only receipting just over 5 000 tourists per annum.
“I wish to share with you the details of my last meeting in China two months ago. I met Vice Premier of China and we placed a request that they become politically affirmative in pushing Chinese traffic in our direction.
“I will tell you the reasons why. Last year the Chinese overtook the Germans in terms of being the highest source market for the world, accounting for 98 million outbound Chinese travellers spending $140 billion in the countries that they visited,” notably said Mzembi..
He advised that if Zimbabwe pursued an affirmative policy with the Chinese, which it had since done by asking them to upgrade the country from a Preferred Destination Access Agreement, to a Memorandum of Understanding, Chinese tourism traffic would increase.
“In the MoU, we are now asking for specific things. Just try and imagine if we went for 5% of the 100 million tourists that are moving out of China on an annual basis to go and visit other destinations, we would have five million arrivals into Zimbabwe. On the average, we have established that they are spending US$ 1 500 per visit. What those 5 million tourists would translate to is US7.5 billion every year in terms of tourism expenditure into our destination,” added Mzembi.
Nothing has however been disclosed up to date relating to the Minister’s efforts to lure Chinese tourists to Zimbabwean wonders save for politicians side-lining him on national events.
Zimbabwe Tourisim Authority (ZTA) revealed to Radio VOP a shocking decrease on tourist visit to the ancient and once popular Great Zimbabwe monuments though ZTA Marketing Personal for Masvingo, Nadia Gori said the organisation could not account for statistics of Lake Mutirikwi as there are no records kept of people who visit the amazing lake.
“We cannot provide of activity on Lake Mutirikwi as it is not accounted for. Visitors just come and see the place then go without being accounted for,” said Gori.
“In the first half of 2014, the tourist attractions had a total of 2 663 tourists whereas the figures have decreased to 1 982 for the same period in 2015.
The decrease in foreign visits have also seen a static movement recorded of locals who visit the tourist attraction as an increase of twenty – eight visitors has been noted.
“In the first half of 2014, the tourist attractions recorded 7 748 local visitors whereas the same period this year has recorded 7 721 visitors from within Zimbabwe. The result show a decrease in the visit to Masvingo’s major tourist attractions from 10 411 as of June 2014 to 9 703 in June 2015,” noted the statistics provided by ZTA.
Africa Sun Marketing Manager, Leona Mabaire however said that their organisation has a lot install to improve the tourism sector as the year progresses and promised that the tourism sector will ultimately improve in luring tourists into the country.
“We believe as the year progresses, the tourism sector will cherish as we have much install to for the improvement in visits. We also believe that as we make campaigns in having considerable increase in visits, they will also contribute to the boosting of the economy,” said Mabaire.
Meanwhile, a strategy has been recently published from the words of United Kingdom based MICE Travel writer, Martin Lewis that Zimbabwe’s Tourism and Hospitality Industry has potential to generate over US$100 million annually from meetings, Incentives, Conventions and Events (MICE).
“Each year, Cape Town hosts 33 international conferences at an average spending of over US1.5 million per meeting. With several conferencing facilities in the country, Zimbabwe stands a competitive advantage to surpass the current capacity of Cape Town as the leading conventions centre in Africa,” Lewis said.
“The Mice Industry is very promising. Mice tourists spend 40% more than regular visitors and they stay longer therefore Zimbabwe can keep improving the management and promotion for this segment. Meetings and conferences mostly take place in star rated hotel, and the participants also stay there, their daily expenditure easily goes over US$200 per person and they usually dine in the hotel’s restaurants due to their limited free time, further increasing their spending.
“MICE events are usually held for three to five days duration but delegates stay longer than that because they often add on a holiday after the event, which in this case will be profitable for Zimbabwe,” added Lewis.