THE tourism sector has registered a 12% growth in bed occupancy level at hotels, with most of the major hotels in the prime destinations experiencing improved business, Finance minister Patrick Chinamasa has said.
In his 2014 mid-term fiscal policy review, Chinamasa said the recovery of tourism was restoring the role of the industry as one of the drivers of the Zimbabwe Agenda for Sustainable Socioeconomic Transformation (ZimAsset) growth targets.
“Growth in the tourism is benefiting from the prevailing political stability in the country, investment in tourism facilities and infrastructure, revamping of domestic flights capacity, all complemented by investment in marketing campaigns,” he said.
“The increasing participation of locals is also serving to support the recovery of tourism performance.”
Chinamasa said the tourism sector had also benefited from conference business during the first eight months of 2014, with the country successfully hosting a number of conferences including Routes Africa, the Southern African Development Community Summit and growing religious conferencing.
He added that the government interventions with regards to fiscal incentives had also underpinned tourism investment refurbishment programmes and already, a number of capital intensive refurbishments have been completed at some hotels and facilities.
“The challenge now is on further investment in expansion of tourism facilities and infrastructure, as well as expansion of Air Zimbabwe coverage to increase frequencies and servicing of more tourist areas. This will ease accessibility to domestic tourist destinations,” he said.
Chinamasa said resultantly, tourism contribution to gross domestic product should rise to 15%, from the current 10% and this would see generation of earnings rise from the current $749 million to over $1,8 billion, as tourist arrivals increase from 2,5 million to 3,2 million by 2015.
He said subsequently, the sector should generate an additional 100 000 employment opportunities. Currently, both direct and indirect employment in the industry was around 300 000.