Govt declares Vic Falls Tourism Special Economic Zone

ZIMBABWE’S prime resort town of Victoria Falls has been declared a Tourism Special Economic Zone (TEZ), a development expected to spur growth in tourist arrivals and create employment for locals, Finance minister Patrick Chinamasa has said.

BY MTHANDAZO NYONI

Presenting the 2016 National Budget in Parliament on Thursday, Chinamasa said the conferment of Victoria Falls as a TEZ International Financial Centre should be followed up with the necessary investments for the economy to realise the tourism potential arising out of this.

“Already, the government has availed 274 hectares of land to a special purpose vehicle, Mosi-Oa-Tunya Development Company, incorporated in March 2012 through the Ministry of Tourism and Hospitality to facilitate the implementation of this concept,” he said.

Judging by the current state and neglect of the Victoria Falls highway, a key national and international tourism corridor, it is clear that the government does not give a hoot about the development and economic growth of Matabeleland.

“This project should leverage on the various tourism products already in existence, which include, among others, leisure, business, conferences, financial, medical, sports, religious, cultural and education.”

Chinamasa indicated that tourism products required different facilities, hence the proposed TEZ should be designed in a manner that meets the different interests of these customer groups.

“The project should bring immense benefits through expected growth in tourism arrivals, increase in tourism-generated income and employment creation across the value chain,” Chinamasa said.

Accordingly, Chinamasa said, drawing from international best practices, the necessary incentives and dispensations in the areas of taxation, duty, liberal visa regimes and exchange control regulations would be availed.

Business lobby groups have been pushing the government to declare Bulawayo and Victoria Falls special economic zones to attract investment to fund the recovery of industry.

SEZs development, according to Bulawayo-based policy analyst Butler Tambo, may be used as an economic laboratory by providing opportunities to experiment on best practice economic policies that have not been tried in a particular country, development of backward and forward linkage industries through SEZs linkages as well as linkages with local firms for raw materials, intermediate inputs and capital equipment.

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