Prosper Ndlovu in Dubai, UAE
THE Zimbabwe Tourism Authority (ZTA) has called for increased investment towards developing standard hotel and high capacity conferencing infrastructure in Bulawayo so as to enhance the city’s tourism attractiveness.
Although being host to the country’s premier trade showcase, the Zimbabwe International Trade Fair (ZITF), Bulawayo lacks capacity to host large numbers at one go, said ZTA executive director, Mr Reason Machigere.
This year’s trade fair is scheduled to be held next month. The need to widen tourism infrastructure in the city of kings, came under spotlight during the recent Tourism and Transport Infrastructure Finance Conference, which was hosted by the country here as a key highlight of the country’s participation at the ongoing Expo 2020 Dubai.
“Bulawayo hosts our annual trade event, the ZITF but come trade fair time, because of lack of capacity, we have to house some of our delegates in holiday homes,” he said.
“So, Bulawayo does require serious investment in terms of conferencing, luxury hotels and budget hotels.
“At the moment Harare compares favourably with Victoria Falls in terms of conferencing tourism occupancies and is the conferencing destination.”
Mr Machigere said Zimbabwe as a whole was generally under-invested in terms of tourism infrastructure with a combined capacity of about 6 000 rooms.
He said the bulk of this infrastructure was concentrated in the resort city of Victoria Falls, which is the country’s prime tourist destination.
Outside the big cities like Bulawayo and Harare, he said the rest of the facilities were distributed to mainly Kariba and Eastern parts of the country.
“From an investment point of view, we have a wide range of facilities to invest on, ranging from luxury to budget hotels.Beyond Victoria Falls we have got other tourism hotshots such as Binga in Matabeleland North, Masvingo and Lake Kariba, the largest man-made water body in terms of reservoir capacity. These can be accessed by road or air transport,” said Mr Chigere
Zimbabwe also has vast investment opportunities in designated tourism zones that are spread across the country that include transfrontier conservation areas.
There are also special economic zones, which offer a variety of incentives to investors and the Victoria Falls Special Economic Zone is one such example, covering parts of Binga and Hwange.
Mr Chigere said the country was keen to drive more tourism investments as it was competing with other destinations in the regional market such as Durban and Cape Town in South Africa.
“The growing interests for Zimbabwe shown by international airlines shows that there is greater opportunity in the destination,” he said.