By Norma Tsopo
MUTARE – Zimbabwe will soon unveil a national tourism master plan (NTMP) aimed at promoting domestic travel through the establishment tourism development zones(TDZs).
Tourism and Hospitality Industry Minister, Walter Mzembi said African Development Bank availed $4 million for the development of the NTMP which proposes to establish an initial 11 tourism development zones across the country.
This is expected to drive the growth of the hospitality industry over the next two decades and place the country among the best tourism destinations in the Southern African Development Community.
“The NTMP will work as a guide in product development and diversification, infrastructural and manpower development, community participation and preservation of nature, culture and heritage,” said recently.
Italian firm, Keios Tourism International Consultancy Company developed the plan with the assistance of local experts.
Work on the plan began in 2014 and had been envisioned to be completed in 2016.
The target is to have the tourism sector improving its earnings from the current $1 billion to over $5 billion, with tourist arrivals expected to multiply to 12.5 million by 2035.
Mzembi said effective implementation of the plan would enable Zimbabwe to deliver sustainable development tourism for the benefit of the economy.
“Eighty percent of Zimbabwe’s tourism product is our bio-diversity, our flora and fauna. Bio-diversity has become a major attraction to the international source markets,” he said.
The 11 initial TDZs targeted in the implementation of the plan are Harare, which would be a business, meeting and conferences zone, the Eastern Highlands for its scenery, Chimanimani for mountain based tourism activities and Gonarezhou for its wildlife.
Great Zimbabwe has been targeted for heritage, culture and water based activities, Limpopo for its wildlife, Victoria Falls for the spectacular seventh wonder of the world – the falls- as well as meetings and conference and Bulawayo for business and meetings.
The Midlands, Kariba and Mavhuradonha are also targeted zones for offering a variety of water based activities, wildlife and cultural events.