Some hotel operators in northern Zimbabwe say business is being crippled by rampant poaching in the Zambezi valley and surrounding areas
This came out at a two-day National Tourism Master Plan seminar in Kariba town attended by various stakeholders, who expressed concern over the depletion of wildlife in the region.
One of the attendants, Shakespear Tsomondo, who is in the tour guide business, told participants that there was a marked decrease in tourism arrivals last year due to wildlife poaching.
Tsomondo said government should intensify the fight against poachers as very few tourists normally visit Zimbabwe to either see or hunt animals.
He said most tourists are not interested in just putting up in hotels.
Several other attendants supported his views noting that wild animals play a critical role in promoting tourism in the country.
Other issues that came out at the seminar included disparities in the pricing of tourism packages and various commodities in Zimbabwe.
Businesswomen, Jaqueline Pasipanodya, who owns a lodge, said some tourists are even complaining about high food prices.
Pasipanodya said some organizations like Buy Zimbabwe Campaign, promoting the purchasing of local products instead of goods bought from other countries, appear to be discouraging tourists from visiting Zimbabwe.
Sophie Kurebwa, Zimbabwe Tourism Association director of Planning, Research and Development, noted that her organization will urgently look into the concerns of all stakeholders.
Kurebwa said government should immediately take stern measures against poachers as the country is risking losing tourism business to nations like Namibia.
She said the fall of the South African rand is worsening the situation for Zimbabwe.
Peter Nizette, associate development consultant and team leader of the Zimbabwe Tourism Master Plan, urged government to look into issues of licensing that was being hampered by state bureaucracy.
The master plan is designed to guide Zimbabwe’s tourism sector and hopefully catapult it into the envisaged US$5 billion industry within the next few years.