Formidable Team Tourism set up

Robert Mukondiwa
Moving houses is a torrid task, which is why they say a good friend helps you move . . . but a great friend helps you move a body. In case, you know, you accidentally murder someone and would rather not do the time.

Now, there is an even more exceptional friend; one that helps you move a nation forward.

Which is why, on a nippy Thursday evening this week, a group of men, in the biblical sense, came together with a noble and long overdue plan to come together and form a team of tourism industry stakeholders to help move the nation forward and achieve more tourist arrivals in Zimbabwe.

Hosted by Mr Osbourne Majuru at his private residence, the Zimbabwe Tourism Authority board chairman and led from the front by the nation’s chief marketer, Environment, Tourism and Hospitality Industry Minister, Ms Prisca Mupfumira, the night-time meeting of industry doyens gave birth to an historic coalition of the willing.

As ceremony manager ZTA’s Chief Godfrey Koti deferred the evening to a joint session to deliberate the core concerns in the industry led by ZTA chief executive Dr Karikoga Kaseke and Mr Majuru, it was clear from the onset that there were the right people at the gathering to have an all-inclusive committee to make tourism a gem again.

A team of tourism stakeholders

Men of men

Minister Mupfumira, straight from representing her nation to the United Kingdom before an impressed Ms Harriet Baldwin Minister of State for Africa at the Foreign and Commonwealth Office and Minister of State at the Department for International Development, had only just put her bags down and had committed to attending the meeting to form a core team that would take the industry’s concerns to other ministries to help bring back the glory days of tourism and make sure tourism gets pride of place and respect as a key forex earner at exporter level.

“I want to put together a team that will take these concerns you have raised to the Minister of Finance (Mthuli Ncube) with a solid argument and figures,” she said sternly.

“I want to work with real men. Because I am a man also! In the Biblical sense. People who are willing and able to push the agenda forward aggressively and convincingly because we want to bring foreign currency to this nation as an exporter and push the vision of the President,” she bellowed authoritatively.

If anyone thought this dispensation was playing games, they ought to have been here with these great select people in the industry.

From Dr Shingi Munyeza, Commissioner Charity Charamba representing the police, industry god Mr Emmanuel Fundira, Winnie Muchanyuka the South African Airways country director representing aviation players, the Department of Immigration represented by Mr Siziba, City of Harare represented by the acting mayor Councillor Costa Maonde, Paul Nhamoinesu Matamisa and his wife Pedia Moyo Matamisa; and observer status for the media represented by media that matters, Zimpapers, the stage was set for brilliant deliberations.

There wasn’t combat, but neither was there lipstick and face-powder; the professionals laid bare in a candid way what was leaving them hamstrung.

From a ballooning bill to IATA of at least US$150 million to the need for a balance between paranoid policing with heavy handed roadblocks and genuine security operations, right down to the maintenance of a clean Harare as the gateway to the nation, all the issues made their way onto the table.

Ever so witty yet sturdy, Dr Karikoga Kaseke was in his zone. The man affectionately known as KK kept prodding the speakers with additional questions so that they would lay bare their frustrations as Mr Majuru also proffered expected solutions.

The industry is in a fix because of a wheezing economy. There was no sugar coating that. Yet a high powered all representative delegation will accompany their minister from one door to another this week to ensure that at the end of it all, tourism gets enough support from the Government to get things working again.

It was no talk shop. And at the end of it all, for once, delegates and doyens knew they would remember this meeting more for the concrete steps and resolutions made as opposed to the sumptuous dinner unlike in past administrations.

“We want to take the lead again as the main forex earner for the nation. We have done it before and certainly can reach that perch again,” said Mupfumira before a hushed crowd held hostage by her aura and charisma. And for a second in that cold night, even the chill, the wind and the crickets stopped and listened.

With this body, it seems tourism will never be the same again!

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