BY: KOJO BENTUM WILLIAMS
Zimbabwe is focusing on building and strengthening its human capacity within the tourism sector as a means for driving gains as the sector fully recovers from the effects of COVID-19.
The Southern African country is also looking at extending its market reach in order to shore up tourism numbers for this year and beyond.
Taking her turn on the VA Tourism Podcast, Winnie Muchanyuka, the CEO of the Zimbabwe Tourism Authority (ZTA), shed light on the organization’s efforts to enhance the tourism industry through capacity building, quality assurance programs, and market expansion. Despite the challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic, the ZTA remains dedicated to improving the country’s tourism offerings and ensuring a memorable experience for visitors.
One of the key areas of focus for the ZTA is human resource capacity. Recognizing the importance of well-trained industry professionals, the authority has implemented a comprehensive quality assurance program and training initiatives aimed at achieving service excellence. The impact of COVID-19 has necessitated a review of these training programs to adapt to the changing landscape. To bridge the skills gap and enhance industry expertise, the ZTA has formed collaborations with educators, hotels, and schools to quickly fill these gaps and equip the workforce with the necessary skills.
Muchanyuka emphasized the ZTA’s role in capacity building and overseeing inspections. The authority, she said works closely with the private sector and advocates for funding opportunities, urging financial institutions to support the tourism industry’s access to resources.
As a voice for the industry, the ZTA “strives to ensure that Zimbabwe’s tourism offerings align with international standards by emphasizing the importance of refurbishing infrastructure and maintaining high service standards,” she said.
Regarding market priorities, the ZTA is targeting Europe, the United States, Australia, and emerging interest from Asia. The reopening of Zimbabwe ahead of other destinations has generated growing interest from regional markets, particularly West Africa. Africa as a whole is also gaining prominence as a market, presenting opportunities for growth and development.
The interview also touched on specific tourist attractions and offerings in Zimbabwe, where the CEO mentioned that the iconic Victoria Falls remains a major drawcard, and the ZTA aims to leverage its popularity to promote other experiences and destinations within the country. Lake Kariba, known for its water activities and family-oriented appeal, is being highlighted as an emerging destination, with improved access facilitated by local flights.
Addressing the challenges faced by tourists regarding payment options, Winnie indicated that “the ZTA plans to collaborate with financial institutions to make payment platforms more accessible for foreign guests.” In the interim, the authority aims to communicate the limitations to potential visitors through various operators and facilitate arrangements to ensure a smoother experience.
Looking ahead, Zimbabwe is set to host large-scale events and signature conferences that will enhance the country’s reputation as a business and tourism hub. Despite the limitations posed by the pandemic, there is optimism about future growth and the continued efforts to improve the industry’s offerings.
As Zimbabwe moves forward, the ZTA, in collaboration with its partners, remains committed to strengthening human resource capacity, expanding markets, and aligning with the nation’s tourism goals. By focusing on quality assurance, training initiatives, and market priorities, the authority aims to position Zimbabwe as a desirable and memorable destination for travellers in the post-COVID era