Government turning tourists away: Mzembi

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TOURSIM Walter Mzembi has said the sector should to be aligned with international standards to remove many barriers that are chasing away tourists from visiting Zimbabwe.
In an interview, Mzembi said the government has to help the sector to grow and stop the blame-game on external forces.
He said: “Visa regimes are ordinarily administered by our internal security or home affairs ministry, so if you seek their revision it means you must lobby them to see the business sense as weighed against security concerns, it is on this instances that we are pushing for the SADC UniVISA, so that a tourist does not incur unnecessary cost if the enter the region”.
The government should also open up the country’s skies to new airlines that want to ply domestic routes.
“The case of Air Zimbabwe has to be resolved and bring it to proper operational viability,” said Mzembi.
“We will continue to weigh down the performances of tourism; it’s not enough just to receive visitors without internally distributing them to all corners of the country.
“(We have a situation whereby a tourist will land at Harare airport and spend three days on the road then end up driving to resort areas such as Victoria Falls a journey that takes only an hour.”
The tourism minister also expressed concern over the 15 percent Value Added Tax (VAT) on payments for lodgings and tourism services by foreign visitors, introduced by finance minister Patrick Chinamasa.
The development means that prices increased by 15 percent, making Zimbabwe’s tourism sector uncompetitive.
“This is not good at all and we need to engage Minister Chinamasa. The sector was slowly picking up after a long decade of economic meltdown.”
When VAT was introduced in 2003 the tourism sector was excluded because it was recognised as an exporter, and therefore exempt from tax payments.
Mzembi had no kind words for the British government after it converged a meeting to discuss the booming illegal transnational trade in wildlife.
“It’s very unfortunate that London converges a conference to discuss a bio-diversity that they did not own,” he said.
“They discuss the destination of elephants in Zimbabwe when Zimbabwe is not invited to the same conference. What do animals know about our politics?Advertisement

“We are saying we have the elephants here and others have the market, it can’t work when we are not talking and seeing eye-to-eye on certain issues.”