Take advantage of UNWTO: Mzembi
“This, however, calls for teamwork. We need to pull together at all levels as a country. As a country we should respect our own laws. There are violations of agreements entered with other Governments, even with those who are friendly to us. This does not augur well for the country,” he said.
This year’s two-day HAZ annual Congress, which ended yesterday was held under the theme: Into the World Spotlight, and the byline, counting down to the UNWTO General Assembly.
Minister Mzembi said the theme embraced the mood that should prevail in all Zimbabweans as the country prepared to deliver, “our brand Zimbabwe a World of Wonders to the international Tourism Arena as we co-host this great event”.
He said facts on the ground pointed to a sustained improvement in performance of the tourism sector in Zimbabwe.
Statistics availed by the Zimbabwe Tourism Authority, Minister Mzembi said, reflected a steady rise to 2,4 million entries of tourists in 2011 from 2,3 million in 2010 and two million in 2009.
“The revenue generated in 2009 was $523 million which grew to $770 million in 2011. During the same period, in terms of economic activities, the tourism sector contributed 13 percent to the Gross Domestic Product. This picture of the growth in the hospitality and tourism sector is further mirrored in the average room occupancy levels which increased from 46 percent in 2009 to 52 percent in the period 2010-2011,” he said.
Minister Mzembi, however, said to maintain this momentum, it was key to address certain critical aspects of the industry like the training of men and women who are in the forefront of service delivery.
“Even the back office need to be thoroughly trained they need to be reenergised and to unlock some deep passion for their job which because of its nature goes around the clock and involves meeting different people all the time. Addressing the human element is critical because this is the unique aspect which distinguishes and sets aside a destination from the others in terms of experiences afforded to a visitor. We have people who are now focused on hanging MBA certificates in their offices, yet exhibiting a culture of laziness, mediocrity instead of using the qualification and skills to serve the people,” he said.
The minister said Zimbabwe need to be innovative and creative to come out ahead of others, for example, in the areas of cuisine, entertainment and merchandising of arts and crafts.
He added that the country needed to ensure that the collaterals to provide information on the destination Zimbabwe which included other regions such as Great Zimbabwe, Eastern Highlands are made available and user friendly in line with today’s technological age.
“We need to deliver a lifetime experience to the delegates and visitors who will in turn become our ambassadors. We all know that even in this new world of information communication technology of Face Book, Twitter, YouTube, the word of mouth still remains a great and inexpensive tool. It is important that we leave an indelible mark on the experience of the hordes of delegates and visitors who are going to descend on Victoria Falls for the event. I am very pleased that HAZ has already embarked on various training programmes to address this concern,” said Minister Mzembi.
He said the elections scheduled for next March could usher in a new Government that could bring to an end the Inclusive Government, but that should not affect the positive work being done on the ground.
Minister Mzembi urged delegates to apply themselves in fighting the various economic battles that seek to empower indigenous people.
He said the generation of President Mugabe, the late Vice President Joshua Nkomo and others would be remembered largely by history for the legacy of bringing political independence to the country.
“What is our legacy as a generation? We should have people like Dr Shingi Munyeza getting into parliament to articulate their brilliant ideas to others. We should be remembered as a generation that brought economic independence to the country. However, as country, we need to co-exist with others. We need to live together with other races, if not for the simply reason that there have been many inter-marriages between our people and other races. Also, we don’t want to make history of becoming the only country with one race, our race only,” said Minister Mzembi.