By James Muonwa, Mashonaland West Correspondent
WILDLIFE has the potential to contribute immensely to the target of achieving a US$5 billion tourism and hospitality sector by the year 2025.
This comes on the backdrop of a rich resource base in Mashonaland West province
Mashonaland West Minister, Mary Mliswa-Chikoka told delegates attending a recent tourism and environment conference in Kariba the province was endowed with many national parks that had a potential to raise the province’s gross domestic product (GDP), which the has potential to feed into the national target to grow the tourism and hospitality sector.
“I am aware of the immense contribution of wildlife and conservation to the product base of this province as it has a rich wildlife product base capable of contributing immensely to the US$5 billion target by 2025,” she said.
“The numerous national parks in this province include; Lake Chivero, Ngezi, Darwendale Recreational Park, Matusadonha National Park, Chinhoyi Recreational Park, Mana Pools and the Kariba Recreational Park and other privately-owned concessions.”
She added there was a need to unlock the potential of the rich resource base through coordinated marketing efforts to ensure unique tourism destinations and products in Chirundu and Sanyati and other areas are known locally and internationally.
Mliswa-Chikoka reiterated the need to urgently embark on land reclamation projects to restore sites ravaged by unregulated mining activities by artisanal miners.
“I wish to underscore the need to step up efforts to rehabilitate numerous landscapes that have been damaged through mining activities.”
The minister said there was also a need to reach out to various stakeholders in order to scale-up tree planting in the province.
She said her office was seized with coordinating and monitoring the implementation of programmes, especially among safari operators, to raise the province’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP).
“My office will be monitoring your operations in this regard, we want a new culture of accountability especially with the safari operators, let us work together and ensure that your ventures grow the province’s GDP,” she said.