Oliver Kazunga Bulawayo Bureau
THE restoration of fiscal incentives for the tourism industry in the 2019 national budget has excited tour operators who say the move will stimulate the growth of their business.
In his budget speech last week Finance and Economic Development Minister Professor Mthuli Ncube emphasised the need to among others, improve business confidence by removing various policy and price distortions.
Safari Operators Association of Zimbabwe Mr Emmanuel Fundira, who is also the Zimbabwe Tourism Authority past chairman said: “We think it was a fairly well-thought out budget speaking to all of us in terms of the need to exercise austerity measures for prosperity.
“And from a business and tourism in particular, point of view, we find the budget extremely stimulating and building the level of confidence we are looking forward to as a sector.”
He said the restoration of incentives relating to the tourism sector, particularly allowing the tourism industry to capitalise and improving on the vehicle fleet, were positive steps.
In the budget, Prof Ncube noted that as the country transforms into an upper middle income economy as espoused in Vision 2030, the contribution of service sectors to GDP (Gross Domestic Product) will increase more than the traditional sectors, in line with global trends.
“Some of the measures relevant for improved performance of the sector include the following the review of the current fiscal incentive framework to derive maximum benefit from the sector; prioritising payment plan towards obligations to the International Air Transport Association and the conclusion of the Tourism Satellite Account in order to accurately account for tourism’s contribution to GDP,” he said.
Government has also prioritised the improvement of air connectivity to all tourist destinations around the country as well as the removal of Visa requirements on key source markets.
To foster tourism growth and development, the Finance Minister said enhanced destination branding and marketing and setting up of a Tourism Revolving Fund were crucial.
“In this regard, I propose to allocate $38,1 million to the Ministry of Environment, Tourism and Hospitality Industry,” he said.
Mr Fundira said Zimbabwe’s tourism sector was bound to register phenomenal growth through the favourable policies that have been enunciated by Government.
“As you know that we have the area bordering lower Zambezi from Kariba up to Binga. The basin has now been designated for Special Economic Zones and by so doing those Special Economic Zones come with a lot of investment promotional initiatives, which as a tourism sector, we are looking forward to take advantage of by investing on the back of the potential growth, which is provided in the budget policy framework,” he said.