By Norma Tsopo
Zimbabwe’s reputation as being among the world’s most expensive tourist destinations is keeping out holidaymakers, the country’s tourism minister has said.
Tourism minister Prisca Mupfumira told a Hospitality Association of Zimbabwe (HAZ) conference in Nyanga recently that there could however be truth in the widely shared perception and tourism service providers needed to revisit their pricing structures.
“The question still remains that are we not prejudicing ourselves? We need to do something to review our price regime if we are shrug off the tag of being the most world’s most expensive tourist destination,” she said.
Her comments come as some visitors complain of paying five-star hotel charges at run-down facilities. This can be undisputed as infrastructure development was difficult as the country endured economic pariah status since the turn of the millennium.
Regional travelers have also been avoiding the country because of its use of the green back which makes it expensive as they use weaker currencies.
Mupfumira said the country could also not fall back on domestic tourism in the absence of international and regional visitors due to a poor traveling culture and the country’s comatose economy.
“This attributed, primarily, to low disposable incomes and absence of a travelling culture amongst locals,” she said.
Despite its reputation as an unsafe place to travel because of former President Robert Mugabe’s ruinous socio-economic policies and the current expensive tag Zimbabwe is peaceful, drop-dead gorgeous, loaded with wildlife and has affable citizens.
According to United Nations World Tourism Organization (UNWTO), Zimbabwe is ranked 19th out of 134 on natural attractiveness index.
There has however been a general improvement on tourist inflows as there is a renewed confidence in the country’s new administration.
Hotel occupancy is now at around 65 percent for city hotels, while resorts are averaging 55 percent.
“Hotel occupancy has increased as a result of renewed confidence. However, our main focus is to aggressively market the Eastern Highlands whose occupancy remain at 40 percent,” said the Tourism Minister.