Thursday, April 22, 2010
ZIMBABWE and South Africa will next month sign an agreement that seeks to strengthen co-operation in the tourism sector. The agreement will be signed during the South African National Tourism Indaba in Durban next month.
Tourism and Hospitality Industry Minister Walter Mzembi and his South African counterpart Mr Marthinus van Schalkwyk agreed on the project after a meeting in Victoria Falls last week.
In a joint statement, Zimbabwe and South Africa said the agreement would strengthen and increase co-operation "promoting and up-lifting inter-country collaboration and the sharing of expertise in tourism."
The two countries identified a number of areas for cooperation including marketing and promotion and human resources development.
"To unlock the tourism potential between the two countries, the ministers identified the areas of cooperation, including marketing and promotion. This will have a positive effect on tourism in the region, the development of heritage and cultural tourism, human resources development, sustainable tourism development that is intended to create decent jobs and empower product owners. It will also encourage investment as well as the development of common standards in respect of tourism products of both countries."
Minister Mzembi said South Africa was an important source market and Zimbabwe could secure 30 percent of its neighbour’s international arrivals.
Last year, South Africa received just over nine million international tourists and Zimbabwe seeks to attract some of those visitors into the country.
"We need a totally packaged and attractive regional product and our strength is to package the features endowed on us as one unit," he said.
Minister van Shalkwyk underscored South Africa’s confidence in Zimbabwe’s tourism industry calling for regional integration in marketing tourism to maximise benefits.
"I am visiting a number of countries in the region to look at the tourism products and what they have to offer. I can say with confidence as South Africa, we want to express a vote of confidence in the long-term health of tourism in Zimbabwe.
"With the short-term view in light of the World Cup it’s enough and we can tell visitors to the World Cup to consider Zimbabwe because it’s safe." He said it was in South Africa’s interest that Zimbabwean tourism sector recovers as quickly as possible.
Zimbabwe has stepped up efforts to boost tourist arrivals that declined in the past decade because of negative reports fuelled by hostile foreign media.
These efforts have begun to bear fruits with Zimbabwe being chosen to represent southern Africa along with South Africa at the United Nations World Tourism executive council.