Zimbabwe: Tourism Sector Seeks Support in Mid-Term Budget

TOURISM industry leaders expect the 2021 mid-term fiscal policy review, which will be presented in Parliament today, to buttress the sector's recovery from the Covid-19 impact.

Finance and Economic Development Minister, Professor Mthuli Ncube, will present the mid-term policy review where he is expected to evaluate the performance of the budget so far this year and provide economic policy guideline for the remainder of the year.

The Tourism Recovery and Growth Strategy (NTRGS), which was launched by President Mnangagwa last year, is one of the key sectoral blueprints aimed at increasing tourism contribution to the wider economy.

Although a total of $500 million guarantee and revolving fund was set aside to assist the sector to stay afloat and save jobs in the wake of Covid-19, tourism industry players have complained over hindrances in accessing the fund, which is part of the $18 billion stimulus package unveiled by Treasury in response to the pandemic.

"The biggest request from tourism is for Government funding that was promised and has not been given as more and more businesses are now technically insolvent and could shut down anytime," said Hospitality Association of Zimbabwe (HAZ) Matabeleland North chair, Mr Anald Musonza.

"This negates all the work done to bring back Zimbabwe into the prime tourism destination of choice. In Victoria Falls, we had a new KAZA hub in the making and any loss to key players will affect our tourism offering."

He said the industry expects zero rate or five percent reduced VAT for tourism and hospitality industry products and services, suspended or subsidised or flat licence fees for all necessary licences to operate, removal or reduction of visa fees and tax investment incentives for every new investment.

The sector also wants the Government to scrap the tourism levy for two years as well as suspend the 10 percent forex retention.

Citing Covid-19, the Tourism Business Council of Zimbabwe has also called for a bail out of the industry to save business and jobs.

The tourism and hospitality industry is one of the key foreign currency earners in the country and before Covid-19, the sector employed thousands of people along the value chain.

Globally, it is regarded as a quick avenue for economic development and a tool for poverty alleviation through its linkages with other downstream sectors of the economy.

The approval last year of the conceptual development framework for the Victoria Falls-Binga Special Economic Zone (SEZ) should also play a pivotal role in creation of a Victoria Falls-Hwange-Binga-Kariba tourism corridor.

Once fully implemented, the SEZ will see traditionally dormant tourism areas such as Binga waking up and attracting investment through infrastructure development.

Th tourism sector targets to achieve a US$5 billion tourism economy by year 2025, which Environment, Climate, Tourism and Hospitality Industry Minister, Mangaliso Ndlovu has said was still achievable despite a myriad of challenges.

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