ZIMBABWE says it is targeting to attract at least five percent of 100 million Chinese tourists who travel the world per annum.
The target is part of the southern African country’s strategy to grow the tourism industry, which, according to Tourism and hospitality Industry Minister, Walter Mzembi, has the capacity to arrest a catastrophic economic downturn rippling its fragile market and industries.
The country receives about two million tourists per annum. The southern African country and China already have an agreement in place encouraging China to place Zimbabwe among its most preferred African destinations.
The agreement, called the Approved Destination Status (ADS) was signed in 2003. But Mzembi told a press conference Monday that the ADS appeared not to be working. He said he had approached top Chinese government authorities with a view to signing a Memorandum of Understanding, which will see at least five million Chinese tourists arriving in Zimbabwe per annum, earning the country about US$6,8 billion in potential earnings.
“I have asked China, with its 100 million travellers per annum, that we only want five percent of that number,” Mzembi said during a press conference where he appraised the media about the completion of the National Tourism Policy to be launched this Thursday. Five percent is five million people, or US$6,8 billion,” said Mzembi.
“Now, I have been reading in the papers that Finance Minister (Patrick) Chinamasa has been asking for a US$10 billion loan to China to be repaid over 20 years. That can be provided by the tourism industry without borrowing,” he said.
Mzembi said Zimbabwe, which regards China as its “all weather friend”, had not benefitted enough from the flow of tourists into the southern African region. About 3 800 Chinese tourists have been arriving in Zimbabwe per annum. “They are our all weather friends but they are the least,” he said.