By Walter Nyamukondiwa
Chinhoyi Bureau — Government is conducting a Domestic Tourism and Outbound survey to gauge the contribution of local tourists to the sector, including coming up with recommendations to improve domestic tourism. The survey is expected to feed into the Tourism Master Plan to be launched next month.
Tourism and Hospitality Industry Minister Prisca Mupfumira recently took part in the survey at Muchiedza Primary School in Makonde. Minister Mupfumira said the survey was being conducted to guide interventions in the tourism industry.
“Among our targets for the 100-day plan, we are looking at domestic tourism as one of the key issues which we must address as Government. A weakness which has been in our tourism statistics is getting the actual numbers of local tourists. This process is to ensure that we have accurate numbers guiding us,” she said.
Getting international tourists statistics, she said, was easy as Government could capture numbers from visitors on arrival. Government is pushing for the survey to be conducted routinely in order to look at the socio-economic factors impeding travel.
“We are going to the grassroots, which gives a good indication on what happens in a basic Zimbabwean family,” said Minister Mupfumira. “We are not being exclusive to urban areas or tourist attractions.
“To come up with our tourism strategy, we need to understand our product and the users for our tourism strategy. I do not want to be fed with information without understanding the process leading to the attainment of figures.”
Minister Mupfumira said the Tourism Master Plan to be launched this month should be inclusive of all factors from stakeholders in the industry and outcomes of the survey. One of the key factors to be addressed, she said, was affordability of local tourism products.
“We are pleased that the price of fuel has gone down because we need our operators to look at their cost structure so that they do not just think of increasing prices,” said Minister Mupfumira.
“Fuel is one of the cost drivers and we want to see what sort of impact that it will have. We want to be competitive in border areas such as Kariba, Victoria Falls and Beitbridge so that tourists do not favour our neighbours. Some tourists come for day excursions and opt to sleep in neighbouring countries, citing comparatively cheaper accommodation,” she said.
Minister Mupfumira said Government wanted to promote community tourism products and the United Nations World Tourism Organisation had pledged to support the initiative.
Preliminary data from the survey indicates that villagers had little disposable income to allow them to travel for leisure purposes. It also emerged in the survey that on the few occasions that villagers had gone beyond their 40-kilometre radius they were going for funerals.