THE Tourism ministry is finalising plans to set up a travel scheme incentive for civil servants that would allow them go on holiday at reduced rates as part of plans to boost local tourism, a government official has said.
According to the Hansard, an in-house Parliament of Zimbabwe publication which records debates verbatim dated November 20 2013, Tourism and Hospitality Industry minister Walter Mzembi said the government, working in conjunction with the Zimbabwe Tourism Authority (ZTA) and other industry representatives, had set up a taskforce to come up with travel incentives for civil servants.
He said the incentives were expected to unlock the huge potential that lies in domestic tourism.
“I pronounced in Cabinet that I have directed my ministry and stakeholders to immediately come up with an incentive, a travel scheme that will commence first with civil servants,” said Mzembi.
“We are going to incentivise it by making sure that civil servants take at least three days out of 365 days a year where they are compelled to take a holiday,” he added.
There has been a public outcry that holiday resorts appear to be only for foreigners and other high net-worthy locals at the expense of civil servants who constitute the bulk of government workers, due to exorbitant prices they charged.
Most civil servants presently earn far below the poverty datum line estimated at nearly $600.
As part of efforts to improve domestic tourism, Mzembi said his ministry was also engaging the Primary and Secondary Education ministry to come up with initiatives to compel schools to go on holiday trips, adding that plans to implement the initiative were already at advanced stages.
“We are on the shopping list of at least 100 vehicles, that includes an assortment of vehicles and minibuses that shall be stationed in provinces and will be at the call of schools. This will promote this side of tourism,” he added.
Mzembi said the government would in a couple of weeks be launching a new tourism policy that captures the drafting in of local communities into the economic value chain in the tourism sector by partly compelling the hospitality industry to procure its inputs, particularly agriculture produce, locally.
He said the government had set up a tourism master plan which would partly include promotion of tourism in provinces starting with Victoria Falls, Kariba and Masvingo as Phase 1 of the plan, although he was quick to point out that the government was incapacitated by financial constraints to implement the plan.
According to figures from ZTA, the country recorded a 12% increase in tourist arrivals in the first half of the year to 859 995, up from 767 393 registered in the same period in 2012.
This figure is expected to go up next year backed by the successful hosting of United Nations World Tourism Organisation general assembly.