Harare — MORE than 1 000 local and international delegates converge in Harare today for the 5th Pan African Tourism Investment Summit and the International Conference on Investment Opportunities in Tourism and Related Sectors.
The investment summit, organised by Africa investor in conjunction with the Ministry of Tourism and Hospitality Industry, and the Zimbabwe Tourism Authority, offers the country the opportunity to position itself as an attractive and competitive investment destination.
Vice President John Nkomo is expected to open the summit and Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai is scheduled to close it.
Minister of Tourism and Hospitality Industry Walter Mzembi told journalist at a Press conference on Friday that 10 ministers of tourism are expected from different African countries and more than 300 foreign investors are expected for the summit.
"The two-in-one event will showcase tourism investment opportunities in Zimbabwe and Africa at large. Projects exhibition will be pitched to profile investment opportunities in tourism and related sectors," Minister Mzembi said.
He added that both the summit and the conference are expected to attract high profile representation including those from ministries and departments, parastatals and state enterprises, national organisations, financial institutions, investors and development co-operating partners.
The World Bank, International Finance Corporation, African Development Bank, Afrexim Bank, Development Bank of Southern Africa, Industrial Development Corporation, CBA Capital Partners, Actis and Renaissance Capital have confirmed their participation.
The summit will also bring together international authorities involved in commercialising legacy projects from previous World Cups and major sporting events.
Minister Mzembi said his ministry had embarked on a number of strategies aimed at developing tourism in the country, including re-engaging the United Nations World Tourism Organisation, to develop the sector across Africa.
The tourism sectors suffered a -9 percent negative growth in 2008 due to a protracted hostile publicity campaign on Zimbabwe on the political front.
However the negative development was countered in 2009, with the sector registering a positive 4,7 percent growth after the formation of the inclusive Government that brought about a political settlement and investment confidence among international investors. Going forward, the tourism sector is expected to grow by a significant 10 percent this year, underpinned by increased arrivals and the Fifa World Cup to be hoisted by neighbouring South Africa.
Minister Mzembi said there is a need by Government to develop tourism-related sectors that include transport, infrastructure development and information communication technology.
"We need a stimulus to pick up our tourism sector and we also managed to undertake an aggressive marketing campaign. We managed to reduced a number of travel warnings and restrictions from the traditional and emerging markets.
"It is clear that Zimbabwe is now a competitive and safe investment destination.
"However, there are a number of issues we need to continue looking at, we need to increase our accessibility and connectivity," said Minister Mzembi.
He said concerted efforts from both the public and private sector managed to halt further decline in the tourism sector, which is forecast to steam ahead to the 1996 levels.
In 2007, the tourism sector contributed 16,7 percent to Gross Domestic Product albeit on a smaller GDP base.