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An open letter to the Travel and Tourism Industry

Globetrotting with Mazwi Shamu, is about where to go, how to go, what to do and how to do it. But, it is not just about marketing tourism destinations and encouraging people to visit places. That’s a small fraction of it. The main purpose is to inform and educate as well as highlight issues within the Travel and Tourism industry and seek recourse and redress from relevant authorities. Within all of that, tips for travel will be given. Ultimately ensuring “Happy Travelling”.

Globetrotting with Mazwi Shamu, is about where to go, how to go, what to do and how to do it. But, it is not just about marketing tourism destinations and encouraging people to visit places. That’s a small fraction of it. The main purpose is to inform and educate as well as highlight issues within the Travel and Tourism industry and seek recourse and redress from relevant authorities. Within all of that, tips for travel will be given. Ultimately ensuring “Happy Travelling”.

The last article which emphasised embracing culture ended on the People as being one of Zimbabwe’s ‘wonders’. The people in a destination can make or break tourism. Many times our choice to visit certain places is influenced by the people. For this reason, in this article, I have chosen to write an open letter to the players in the tourism industry concerning the local people.

Recently, a draft Strategic Tourism Plan was discussed by Permanent Secretary Munesu Munodawafa as well as a wide spectrum of people ranging from tourism operators, captains of the tourism industry, the Zimbabwe Tourism Authority’s CEO, Mr Givemore Chidzidzi, the President of Tourism Business Council of Zimbabwe Ms Winnie Muchanyuka and her Chairman Mr Paul Matamisa to the Minister of Environment, Tourism and Hospitality Industry himself Honourable Nqobizita Ndlovhu.

There was also a massive public audience that streamed online through various social media platforms. Industry issues were thrown into the forum and some criticised whilst others complemented and though only some of the public comments were addressed, the meeting ended with people being assured that all contributions will be looked at and will be considered in the next draft document. What was clear from all the discussions and presentations made was that the Domestic Market was going to be developed as the driving force of the rebirth of the new tourism industry post COVID19.

As we are in a season of reshaping the tourism industry, everyone seemed to be speaking up about their desires. Everyone appeared to be represented at the meeting, however, no one seemed to be representing the ordinary, local person, who is actually the main custodian of the domestic market. As usual, people talked about what should be done to the destination and how it should be done, some with more emotion than others. Others spoke as the tourist and aired out their frustrations with the local tourism industry and tourism board.

In my previous articles, I introduced what I termed as Backyard Tourism. As a follow up to this I spoke about the need to respect the local environment and the culture of the people and expanded on various aspects such as conservation and the people working behind the scenes and most recently, I spoke about the need to embrace culture. In this article, I stand as an advocate for the ordinary local person, who may or may not be travelling, but lives in the destination that people may be visiting. What are they as local people gaining from tourism development in their destinations?

As I have travelled far and wide, what has struck me the most is the condition of the local people within some destinations. Be it the Caribbean, which has some of the most stunning resorts, Zanzibar, an African dream destination and our very own Kariba which has got stunning and breath taking views. But, within inches of some of these resorts in these top destinations is poverty and squalor.

 How is it that such popular destinations fail to address the locals within the area? Why is there no reinvestment into the local destination? Reinvestment in terms of better roads, better housing, better jobs generally better living conditions. Tourism is a low hanging fruit and many can take advantage of that. We talk of tourism dollars transforming economies. How about we start at home.

It is time we as the owners of tourism within destinations start building tourism so that it is loved and respected and not resented by the locals. In the next article we will investigate programs such as Campfire and their contribution to community based tourism. Some resorts have great community projects set up but this at times is at a small scale. When done at destination level and not at individual level, much can be achieved. It’s both a shame and an embarrassment to talk of a thriving tourism destination and yet there is abject poverty in the same destination. The local people should be one of the biggest tourism stakeholders. They are allowing tourism to happen amicably in their destination. Let’s show them some respect and give them some love. Love in the form of jobs, in promoting their businesses, in giving them better standards of living as well as education.

Teach us, as the local people, how we can help you as the tourism organisation. Pride will come naturally for the people in the destination when they understand and they are involved. Backyard tourism will be effortless. There are many unexploited places within Zimbabwe in our Backyards and for many, it is the local person who will need to be the front runner in the destination showing tourists around. As we return to some kind of normalcy, I make a plea to Travel and Tourism organisations, not to forget their local communities.  I urge them to push for better standards of living in their communities. After all, it is these communities that will ensure “Happy Travelling”.

#Travel Tomorrow #Happy Travelling

3 replies on “An open letter to the Travel and Tourism Industry”

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