By Alois Vinga
CHINA’s newly launched tourism project will see at least 350 tourists from the Asian economic giant fly into Zimbabwe every month to enjoy the country’s rich tourism system dominated by one of the world’s biggest natural wonders, the Victoria Falls.
Briefing delegates on the development Tuesday, Tourism Minister Prisca Mupfumira said the “Tour Africa – New Horizon” project was being implemented under China’s Belt and Road Initiative, which seeks to combine new and old projects covering an expansive geographical scope.
“It also includes efforts to strengthen hard infrastructure, soft infrastructure, and cultural ties,” said Mupfumira.
“At present, the plan extends to 65 countries with a combined Gross Domestic Product of $23 trillion and includes some 4.4 billion people.
“It is in the spirit of this noble initiative that we are launching the Grand TOUR AFRICA- NEW HORIZON Project, which will see us receiving 350 Chinese tourists every month as from March 2019.”
Mupfumira said the project was being managed in collaboration with the Ethiopian Airlines, which will be providing the charter flight for 350 tourists to travel through Djibouti, Tanzania and Zimbabwe.
“The final destination being Zimbabwe, the tourists will enjoy the majestic Victoria Falls and other scenic beauties provided by nature Zimbabwe.
“Part of the large Chinese delegation will include investors who are coming to scout the environment whilst enjoying our unique tourist attractions.
“The interaction also seeks to establish cultural ties with the East and promote cultural exchange programs between the two countries,” Mupfumira said.
The launch of initiative comes at a time government is encouraging foreign investors to take up vast business opportunities in Zimbabwe.
Last year, National Geographic named Zimbabwe as one of its 19 coolest places to visit in 2019.
Zimbabwe is placed 9th in the list and ranks highest among African countries, with Eritrea 12th, Kwa-Zulu Natal in South Africa 13th and Uganda 16th.
Also, the world’s largest and leading Africa safari authority, SafariBookings.com, has since ranked Zimbabwe among continent’s top eight destinations.
The target is to increase tourist arrivals from the anticipated 2.7 million in 2018 to over 5.5 million by 2023 as well as growing tourism receipts from US$1 billion in 2017 to US$3.5 billion by 2023.