Prosper Ndlovu in Dubai, United Arab Emirates
The Zimbabwe Tourism Authority (ZTA) has called for increased investment to develop standard hotels and high-capacity conference infrastructure in Bulawayo to improve the city’s tourist appeal.
Despite hosting the country’s premier trade showcase, the Zimbabwe International Trade Fair (ZITF), Bulawayo does not have the capacity to accommodate a large number of people at one time, the executive director of the ZTA, Mr. Reason Machigere.
This year’s show is expected to be held next month. The need to expand tourism infrastructure in the City of Kings was highlighted during the recent Tourism and Transport Infrastructure Financing Conference, which was organized by the country here as a culmination of the participation of the countries at the ongoing Expo 2020 in Dubai.
“Bulawayo hosts our annual trade event, ZITF, but at show time due to lack of capacity we have to accommodate some of our delegates in holiday homes,” he said.
“So Bulawayo requires serious investment in terms of conferences, luxury hotels and budget hotels.
“At the moment, Harare compares favorably to Victoria Falls in terms of conference tourism occupancy and is the conference destination.”
Mr Machigere said Zimbabwe as a whole was generally under-invested in terms of tourism infrastructure with a combined capacity of around 6,000 rooms.
He said most of this infrastructure was concentrated in the resort town of Victoria Falls, which is the country’s main tourist destination.
Apart from major cities like Bulawayo and Harare, he said the rest of the facilities were mostly distributed in Kariba and the east of the country.
“From an investment perspective, we have a wide range of facilities to invest in, ranging from luxury hotels to budget hotels. Beyond Victoria Falls, we have other tourism highlights such as Binga in Matabeleland North, Masvingo and Lake Kariba, the largest man-made body of water in terms of reservoir capacity. These are accessible by road or air transport,” Mr Chigere said.
Zimbabwe also offers vast investment opportunities in designated tourist areas spread across the country, including transfrontier conservation areas.
There are also Special Economic Zones, which offer a variety of incentives for investors and the Victoria Falls Special Economic Zone is an example, covering parts of Binga and Hwange.
Mr Chigere said the country is keen to increase tourism investment as it competes with other destinations in the regional market such as Durban and Cape Town in South Africa.
“The growing interest in Zimbabwe shown by international airlines shows that there are greater opportunities in the destination,” he said.