Madrid — The United Nations World Tourism Organisation has helped Zimbabwe come up with a Tourism Master Plan that should see the country's tourism and hospitality industry more than double in growth and tourist arrivals by 2015.
In an interview at the UNWTO headquarters in Madrid, Spain, the organisation's director for technical co-operation and service Dr Harsh Varma, said under the plan that is now awaiting a launch in Harare in a few weeks, Zimbabwe will be helped to increase its tourist arrivals from 2,2 million to 5 million in two years.
"The master plan takes into cognisance Zimbabwe's political, economic, social, cultural, technical and geographical aspects and when implemented should see tourist arrivals increase from the 2010 figure of 2,2 million to 5 million in 2015.
"Jobs in the industry should increase from the current 200 000 to 450 000 by the same year, while the country's contribution to the Gross Domestic Product will increase from 9,1 percent to 15 percent by the same year," said Dr Varma.
Asked how he had come up with the fugures, Dr Varma, who met with the Minister of Tourism and Hospitality Industry Walter Mzembi, early yesterday morning, said there was wide consultation and investigation on the situation on the ground in Zimbabwe, during the crafting of the plan.
"We have been in touch with the Government of Zimbabwe especially the Ministry of Tourism and based on the consultations that we carried out, we formulated a situation analysis which we have used to formulate a final project document which was discussed with your Minister this morning.
"The idea is to create a long term sustainable Tourism Master Plan for the country which will guide growth and development of the sector for the next 15 years.
"Apart from the major role that will be played by national authority in terms of national policy formulation and strategy, there will be major role by provincial and district government in terms of the indication of the country's new Constitution. This is going to be a highly integrated approach."
Dr Varma said the country's geography, culture and tourist resorts has also played a major role in coming up with the master plan.
"We are aiming at geographical diversification and equitable development and the benefits of that development should accrue to all areas of the society. We are also going to thematic diversification, using resources ranging from culture, nature, wildlife and art," he said.
He said the idea is that Zimbabwe should be able to stand on its own as a tourism hub of Southern Africa and Africa itself.
The country, he said, should not depend on one product, it should not walk down on narrow product supply when there is a lot of diversity on its tourism tapestries.