Tourism and Hospitality Industry Minister, Walter Mzembi has blasted opposition activists for staging violent demonstrations in Harare last week saying their activities are affecting local tourism.
Addressing gospel music lovers at the Gospel Music Festival in Gwanda on Saturday at Phelandaba Stadium, Minister Mzembi said his ministry’s efforts to market the country were being plunged into the drain because of the violent protests.
“After a good day’s work, month or years as has been the case with tourism, people have chosen to reverse our work by their actions. Recent events and protests have hurt tourism and Zimbabwe badly.
“Tourism cannot package and sell conflict. We’ve succeeded to date in repositioning Brand Zimbabwe, largely because despite national differences, they’ve not translated into public conflict to the extent where it constitutes a security threat warranting travel advisories, which we successfully negotiated away in 2009. Anyone who seeks to govern one day, or form alternative government must invest in peace. We should all roundly reject violence of any shade as a means of expression of our Zimbabweaness!
“We fought for democracy to make the ballot box the theatre of change, not street fighting. So anyone who aspires to govern must invest in peace, dialogue and superior ideas. So let’s get off the streets, exercise mutual tolerance for our diverse positions and meet in conference rooms like the educated and enlightened people we are and design the Zimbabwe we want.”
According to the Zimbabwe Tourism Authority (ZTA) 2014 tourism overview report, tourism receipts recorded a marginal three percent decline from US$856 million to US$827 million.
Tourist arrivals increased by about 2.6 percent after vigorous marketing and proof the country was a safe international destination.
The country also recorded 42 798 and 26 031 tourist arrivals from Asia and Oceania respectively. chronicle