Story by Tichaona Kurewa
The Tourism Recovery Plan, anchored on domestic tourism, has been boosted by the Zimbabwe Parks and Wildlife Management Authority’s (ZIMPARKS) decision to defer the increase of entry fees to the second quarter of next year.
Zimparks had proposed to increase rainforest entry fees to US$10 from US$7 for domestic tourists and US$50 from US$30 for international tourists.
However, the authority has shelved plans to increase the entry fees for domestic tourists in a move described by stakeholders as key to promoting tourism growth.
A tourism executive, Mrs Barbra Murasiranwa Hughes said, “We have seen that during COVID-19 period that domestic tourism was the fastest growing market in tourism and we want to thank Zimparks for making cognisance of that, making sure that we value our domestic travellers and that we encourage them to continue participating and being part of the tourism industry.”
Another tourism player, Lovemore Machipisa noted, “Now that they have given a three months’ notice better, now we can at least we now advise the clients and agents.”
“This is going to promote domestic tourism; this will mean there will also be some income coming in not only from international tourists but also from domestic travellers. For tourism to grow in this country, there is a need to balance between domestic and international tourists, so this move to keep the domestic tourism fees as there were is a positive move because it is going to be affordable for local tourists and also going to increase the number of people who are going to visit the tourist destination,” added Sipho Moyo, another tourism executive.
Zimparks also pledged to ensure the growth of the local tourism industry in its endeavour to raise operational funds.
“As an authority, we want to promote domestic tourism, we want to ensure that more people have access to the rainforest. We are going to continue charging seven dollars,” Zimparks spokesperson Mr Tinashe Farawo said.
A growth trajectory has been witnessed in the sector this year with tour operators and hoteliers recording over 70 per cent occupancy rate and bookings for the festive season.