TOURISM Minister, Walter Mzembi has defended the decision by his cash-strapped ministry to buy $50 million worth of vehicles from India’s Ashok Leyland, saying it would boost tourism.
“It’s basically a suppliers’ credit to the tune of $50 million and is meant to resource us, particularly in the area of domestic tourism,” Mzembi told The Source in an interview on Friday.
He said the deal had just been concluded and that the loan would be repaid over a period of between 10 to 20 years at “nominal” interest.
Mzembi said the order included government vehicles, some for National Parks, game viewing equipment, luxury buses and school tourism buses.
“If we are going to do serious school tourism as we used to do in 1980, each province must have at least 30 buses,” he said.
On Thursday, Ashok Leyland announced on the Bombay Stock Exchange (BSE) that it had bagged a contract from the ministry to supply 670 vehicles worth around $50 million.
Leyland manufactures buses, trucks, light vehicles and defence vehicles.
The ministry was allocated $6, 1 million in the 2014 national budget with the 2015 projected at $6,4 million. Its capex for 2014 was set at $340,000 and $410,000 in 2015.
Mzembi said the ministry was the least resourced, saying government fails to understand the role of tourism in the economy.
He said globally, tourism generated $1,3 trillion out of 1.1 billion arrivals, with Africa’s share being only four percent.
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