Sunday, May 6, 2018

‘Zimbabwe not China ready’. . . destination Zim too expensive

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Tinashe Makichi
Tourism mother board, the Zimbabwe Tourism Authority (ZTA), has said the Zimbabwe tourism destination is not ready for the Chinese market and must undergo training and certification to achieve this.
ZTA chief executive, Dr Karikoga Kaseke recently said the Zimbabwean tourism sector is not China ready at the moment, and a lot still needs to be done.
The China ready training prepares people and businesses for the opportunities of engaging with China and the Chinese.
The Sunday Mail Business is informed that the Zimbabwean tourism sector is yet to be certified to receive Chinese tourism business and a lot of work still needs to be done.
There has been a drastic decline of Chinese tourist arrivals into Zimbabwe over the past few years and the ZTA is targeting to bring at least 100 000 Chinese tourists into the country in the next three years.
While Zimbabwe enjoys excellent relations with China, the country’s tourism industry has not been able to fully tap into this huge market.
Analysts are of the opinion that the country needs to translate the political goodwill into economic benefit.
Said Dr Kaseke: “We need to train our inbound tour operators on China readiness. There is a training program that every hotel must undergo for it to be China ready.
“Everyone involved in tourism must undergo that training program and get certified so that they can deal with Chinese tourists.
“Other countries that have done that are now boasting of heavy arrivals from China. For example, South Africa and Zambia completed that last year. However, the China readiness program requires a bit of funding,” said Dr Kaseke.
Dr Kaseke said a country is deemed China ready when more than 60 percent of the country is certified ready to receive Chinese tourism business.
“Zimbabwe is not China ready. For as long as we remain on the terraces, we will continue admiring other countries that are reaping rewards from China,” he said.
China is currently the world’s largest source market for outbound tourists and most countries are putting various strategies to tap into it.
Pricing for tourism products
Meanwhile, analysts are of the opinion that Zimbabwe is an expensive tourism destination. They argue that Zimbabwe is pricing itself out of the market and needs to correct its fee structure for sustainable growth.
Dr Kaseke agrees that the country is arguably one of the world’s most expensive tourist destinations, noting that Zimbabwe could be prejudicing itself of thousands of potential tourists due to its exorbitant charges.
It costs between $100 and $200 to book into a decent hotel, while the price can double in major tourist resorts like the Victoria Falls.
Zimbabwe, as a destination, becomes even more expensive given the South African rand’s slump against the United States dollar.
According to the Zimbabwe Tourism Council (ZTC), South Africa contributes 30 percent of tourists that come into Zimbabwe every year.
Dr Kaseke said for the destination to become more competitive, there is need to urgently address the pricing of tourism products in the country.
“Most tourists have been shunning this destination due to our pricing. I am sure this can be addressed. Our products are currently the most expensive.
“However, I am happy that the challenge of too many police road blocks is now a thing of the past,” said Dr Kaseke.