THE Tourism Authority (ZTA) has dismally failed “penetrate the western world and lure international tourists” compared to other regional countries because of poor marketing strategies, a parliamentary report has revealed.
Western tourism traffic towards Zimbabwe hit the skids after the country was declared a dangerous destination at the turn of the century due to President Robert Mugabe’s violent land seizure programme and human rights violations.
To counter the slump, Mugabe adopted a so-called Look East Policy under which the southern African country targeted China and other Asian countries for tourism marketing and business investment promotion programmes.
But all these efforts – according to a recent report by the parliamentary portfolio committee on the tourism and hospitality industry – were not yielding the desired results.
“The Zimbabwe Tourism Authority is being outcompeted in destination market penetration by regional competitors, especially South Africa which attracted 794,073 European arrivals against a figure of 107,108 for Zimbabwe in 2015.
“The gap widened for 2016 where South Africa recorded 920,706 arrivals against 97,383 for Zimbabwe,” read the report.
The parliamentary committee said the sector was struggling to recover due to government’s lack of seriousness when marketing local tourism destinations to western countries.
“Several tourism marketing and promotion activities are at risk. The consequential effect on tourist attraction will be worse compared to last year where the government funded five travel shows,” said the report.
The legislators also said two of the major international tourist promotion events would not be held because of the lack of funding.
“Major tourist promotion programmes will be negatively affected; that is, Sanganai Hlanganani World Tourism Expo and Harare International Carnival and these two events require a minimum of $1 million,” said the report.