By Rutendo Rori
Government has encouraged stakeholders to market religious tourism under the national branding exercise to attract tourists and boost foreign direct investment.
Speaking during a provincial branding stakeholders’ meeting in Marondera on Monday, Minister of State for Mashonaland East Provincial Affairs Cde David Musabayana said the branding exercise should highlight unique areas in the country.
“The issue of spirituality is largely ignored in Zimbabwe, but some countries are actually making money through selling their religious stories,” he said.
“The world should know about our religious sites, and those unique elements will attract more tourists to the country. Countries like Egypt are well known for their pyramids and they attract tourists through those unique elements.” Cde Musabayana said the national branding programme would market the rich natural and man-made endowments that the country was well known for.
“Our concern as a nation is that despite the rich natural and man-made endowments that our country is well known for, there has not been corresponding improvements to the livelihoods of the majority of its people,” he said.
“This is partly because the said endowments and resources have not been fully exposed and exploited either by us citizens of the country or through foreign direct investment.
“Our detractors, both internal and external, have been running with the agenda of smearing the image or perception that the world has of Zimbabwe. This has had devastating effects of slowing down investment and the exploitation of our comparative advantages and resources, resulting in impoverished communities and low per capita incomes.
Cde Musabayana urged stakeholders in Mashonaland East to participate fully in the national branding programme and submit a provincial video, brochure and a website within the stipulated time frame of 100 days.
“This output should have the power to market Mash East Province and eventually Zimbabwe so that we increase investors’ appetite to be part of the business here,” he said.
“Let us all put our minds together as local authorities, Government departments, business community, development partners, the private sector and communities in general because we all stand to benefit at the end.”
The Office of the President and Cabinet is spearheading an all-stakeholders process for a national branding strategy that will inform the world that Zimbabwe is open for business and has functional institutions to support the exploitation of business and investment opportunities.
The campaign focuses on key result areas, as well as institutions that deal with visitors to Zimbabwe, investment and trade in the country, among them Government ministries, departments, regulators and private business groups.