Oliver Kazunga, Senior Business Reporter
FIRST Lady Amai Auxillia Mnangagwa has challenged youths to participate in tourism programmes that seek to foster inclusive trans-generational empowerment in line with the national development agenda.
In a speech read on her behalf by the Acting Minister of Environment, Tourism and Hospitality Industry, Cde Mangaliso Ndlovu, who is also the Minister of
Industry and Commerce during the Africa Youth in Tourism Conference in Bulawayo on Thursday evening, Amai Mnangagwa said inclusive economic growth was critical and the tourism sector presents an opportunity for realisation of such a drive.
“The clarion call set before all of us, the youth in particular, is that of exploiting the given context of our liberty to adequately participate in all activities, which seek to generate inclusive empowerment across generations,” she said.
As the critical mass in decision making, Amai Mnangagwa said advancement of direct participation of youths in policy-making must be embraced. She said the
Africa Youth in Tourism Conference provides a strategic opportunity to unlock the potential for investment through tourism, one of Zimbabwe’s major economic mainstays.
“In this context of high unemployment rate in Africa, it is imperative for policy makers to adopt a holistic approach to the growth of fraternal economic fronts especially tourism,” said Amai Mnangagwa.
She alluded to a 2017 study that revealed that tourism was contributing to employment creation in Africa with over nine million jobs for youths and a projection of 12 million plus jobs by 2028. The First Lady said although information on the prospects of leveraging tourism and hospitality was abundant, there was limited contribution of youths prospecting in the tourism sector.
This is a challenge that calls for robust tourism policy direction, she said, as she commended the conveners of the Africa Youth in Tourism Conference for the platform.
This year’s conference was held under the theme, “Changing Africa’s future for accelerating investment capacity in youth for sustainable tourism development”.
Amai Mnangagwa said youths should be at the centre of meaningfully contributing to the Gross Domestic Product of their economies in line with concerted efforts to integrate trade and free the markets under the auspices of the African Continental Free Trade Area (ACFTA), to which Zimbabwe is a signatory. She hailed the 39th Sadc Summit resolution against sanctions imposed on Zimbabwe by the West.
“The continued imposition of illegal sanctions curtails the potential for tourism growth and foreign direct investment. As a result, the call for diplomatic pressure against sanctions must be complemented by our continued zeal to rejuvenate our economy and tourism in particular,” said the First Lady.
“There is a need to synchronise African countries’ tourism, trade and investment policy frameworks to engineer enabling mechanisms to take full advantage of the newly formed African Continental Free Trade Area.”
As a major actor in tourism, she said, Zimbabwe should drive the southern regional economic integration to make Africa an optimal destination for Africa.
Amai Mnangagwa said Zimbabwe should leverage on its rich cultural diversity to encourage community-based tourism and urged youths to take a proactive role in participating in projects that promote cultural tourism.
“We should also tap into the role of medical tourism as the world is drifting towards organic remedies for the cure of many chronic diseases. As a continent and Zimbabwe in particular, we are endowed with medicinal properties, which can be a driver for medical tourism notwithstanding the therapeutic benefits provided by our flora and fauna,” she said.
Pursuant to the National Tourism Recovery and Growth Strategy Vision (2025), Government is working towards recouping the lost market share in the traditional markets of Europe, America, Australia and Asia.
“The broader aim is also to penetrate new markets in Eastern Europe, China, India and Asia as well as growing the domestic market so as to enhance the contribution to the national economy,” said Amai Mnangagwa.
Earlier, Minister of State for Bulawayo Provincial Affairs Judith Ncube said in line with the devolution thrust, Bulawayo was ready to harness manufacturing and tourism opportunities.
“Bulawayo is looking at growing the provincial economy through manufacturing and tourism among key pillars. In the area of tourism, we believe we have immense potential to attract more leisure visitors. We are keen to see an increase in hotel capacity in this city to enable the province to host events of this magnitude,” she said. — @okazunga