Farirai Machivenyika and Kudakwashe Mhundwa, Harare Bureau
Government is committed to sustainable growth of the tourism sector through the implementation of various initiatives, President Mnangagwa has said.
The President said this during a cocktail he hosted for a visiting 343-member Chinese tourist delegation at State House last night.
The delegation comprising tourists, buyers and journalists are part of a tourism project organised by Touchroad International Holdings Group dubbed “Tour Africa-the New Horizon”.
“My Government has adopted various strategies to ensure sustainable long-term growth of the tourism sector,” he said.
“These include increasing tourist arrivals and promoting investment in tourism related infrastructure. We therefore continue to encourage investment in infrastructure such as hotels and other facilities that will widen our tourism products. The introduction of a number of incentives will further help promote investments into the sector. These include the declaration of Tourism Special Economic Zone, which covers Victoria Falls, Binga and Kariba tourism corridor among others.”
President Mnangagwa added that duty exemptions were also available for the importation of tourism capital goods and safari vehicles.
“Government is also scaling up efforts to rehabilitate and modernise airport infrastructure as well as road networks connecting tourist resorts,” President Mnangagwa said.
“To this end the Belt and Road Initiative spearheaded by His Excellency Xi Xinping will go a long way in enhancing interconnectivity with countries to facilitate not only trade but also tourism and people-to-people exchanges. Hence tourists can use Zimbabwe as a gateway to other tourist destinations in the Southern Africa region.”
He added that the expansion of the Victoria Falls International Airport had been a boost to arrivals as it opened direct flights to the resort town.
President Mnangagwa said the visit by the delegation was further proof of Zimbabwe as a safe tourist destination.
“Our country’s tourism sector has received international recognition and endorsements which saw us being nominated as the 3rd Best in Travel in the World, and we are among the top 10 ‘must visit’ destinations and chosen the Sustainable Destination of the Year during the recent ITB Berlin Travel Show.
“This commitment of monthly tourist delegations by Touchroad International Holdings Group, is yet another welcome endorsement and recognition of Zimbabwe as a safe and must visit destination,” he said.
Speaking at the same occasion Chinese ambassador to Zimbabwe Mr Guo Shaochun thanked President Mnangagwa for hosting the visiting delegation.
“This is an honour to the tourism of China and shows that Zimbabwe attaches great importance to the friendship with China,” he said.
“China and Zimbabwe have strong political relationship and always support each other in rain and sunshine. Last year with the guidance of our leaders the relationship has been elevated to the comprehensive strategic partnership. We are confident that under the Belt and Road Initiative and the Forum for China-Africa Cooperation we will see more practical cooperation between China and Zimbabwe.”
Ambassador Guo said more than 130 million Chinese visit different countries every year and it was his dream that one percent of that would visit Zimbabwe.
The visit is a result of a Memorandum of Understanding signed between Government and Touchroad International Group during President Mnangagwa’s State Visit last year.
Under the MoU, at least 300 Chinese tourist will visit Zimbabwe monthly.