After last week’s military attacks in Zimbabwe’s capital, a question mark looms over the continued growth of the country’s dynamic tourism industry. Tourists have been here before over the last two decades, but what does this mean for the citizens, the economy and the potential the former bread basket of Africa has in tourism
The three day attack on citizens came as a result of a protest to the announcement of a fuel increase. This saw police and soldiers open fire on fleeing citizens, flogging and the arrest of predominantly male citizens. A recorded 12 were confirmed dead, while over 200 were seriously wounded.
In a statement, Mthuli Ncube, Finance Minister, reiterated that “the economic reform agenda is a very serious one, but also we are determined to see it through,” he said in an interview at the World Economic Forum in Davos.
“This (unrest) is part of the pain in terms of the reform roadmap,” he said.
“The truth is we’ve had 20 years of economic decay and morass, and we’re determined that we fix this and move Zimbabwe to the next level.”
That is reassuring for tourists already on the ground, but a question mark hangs over the fallout of this latest attack and what the future holds for citizen unrest.
That atrocity was the catalyst for a dramatic plunge in the fortunes of Zimbabwe’s tourism industry. Foreign governments warned citizens against travel to the country, major tour operators cancelled packages, and hotels — particularly in Victoria Falls – were left empty.
The reality is, an increase in fuel will have a significant impact on Zimbabwe’s tourism sector. From the cost of flights and accommodation to the tours available as some business owners may not have the capacity to keep their operations running.
While time will tell whether the tourism industry will pick up in the next few months, it is with hope that the strategic plan is a fortified one to revitalize destination marketing efforts.