Zimbabwe tourism players urged to build disaster proof structures

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By Staff Reporter

Mutare: Players in the tourism and hospitality industry should build structures that are compatible with current weather patterns brought by climate change in the country, a top civil servant has said.

Secretary in the Tourism Ministry, Munesu Munodawafa said this while officially opening the 2019 Hospitality Association of Zimbabwe (HAZ) Congress and Annual General Meeting in Mutare recently.

He made reference to Cyclone Idai which ravaged south eastern parts of Manicaland province in March this year, leaving massive human and animal death and a trail of destruction on property and the environment.

“The Eastern highlands, particularly Chipinge and Chimanimani were hard hit by Cyclone Idai which reflects changing in weather patterns being ushered by climate change affecting the whole world.

“…As we move forward as an industry and do our projects, we need to take seriously the issue of climate proofing our structures and our initiatives because this is a sad reality we are facing,” said Munodawafa.

He cited Mauritius which he said is often affected by three to four cyclone disasters every year, but its structures remain intact.

“We are told Mauritius is affected by Cyclones three to four times a year, but you will never hear that their roofs are blown off by winds.

“They could have realised that this is a reality they were facing and they are now climate proofing their properties. It’s a reality that we have to look at as an industry,” said the top government official.

Munodawafa however expressed concern over the decline in tourist arrivals in the country this year, saying the industry should look at the root causes of the slump.

Zimbabwe recorded 2, 6 million international tourists arrivals in 2018, six percent up from 2, 4 million received in 2017.

However, the country recorded a three percent decline in tourist arrivals to 1,115 million in the first half of this year from 1,148 arrivals recorded in the same period last year.

“My challenge to you as industry is to find the root cause of the decline in arrivals of tourists to Zimbabwe and together, we can put intermittent measures,” said the secretary.

Munodawafa said government was aware of the challenges affecting the tourism and hospitality industry.

He cited fuel, power, foreign currency shortages and limited disposable income for local people to travel for holidays as major challenges impacting on the growth of the sector.

“Government is aware of challenges you are facing as an industry. These include power, fuel, foreign currency shortages and limited disposable income for local people to go for holidays,” he said.

The country is reeling under an economic meltdown, with inflation reaching alarming levels due to continued devaluation of the local currency.