THE tourism sector is reportedly suffering huge losses owing to overzealous manner at which some Zimbabwe Republic Police officers are manning roadblocks along the countries roads, abusing both motorists and the law.
Ross Kennedy, chief executive of Africa Albida Tourism and the former chairman of the African Travel and Tourism Association, said the country was now becoming difficult to sell as a self-drive destination and countries such as Germany were now shunning Zimbabwe as a safe destination.
Kennedy said the roadblock situation had become worse despite assurances by the Tourism ministry that things would get better. Kennedy said he was encouraged by Press reports that Tourism minister Walter Mzembi was engaging the Home Affairs ministry to ensure that the situation on the country’s roads was improved.
This only reflects the cost of doing business in Zimbabwe, which is being pushed upwards by three main drivers — poor laws, corruption and congested road blocks — which has turned the life of road users into a nightmare and owning a vehicle into a crime. Not only are tourists being affected, but locals as well, including tobacco farmer Evan Nyakuchera, who said the cost of transporting his 20 bales of tobacco from Karoi to Harare went up by nearly 50% owing to “problematic” roadblocks along the way.
ZIMBABWE Tourism Authority (ZTA) chief executive officer, Karikoga Kaseke has urged the government to urgently order the police to desist from mounting countless roadblocks on major highways, saying they were tarnishing the country’s image and frustrating foreign visitors.
Speaking at a ceremony for Kenya Airways’ inaugural flight to Victoria Falls yesterday, the ZTA chief said the roadblocks were making it difficult to market Zimbabwe as a competitive tourist destination.
Kaseke complained that on a 21-kilometre drive from the resort town to the newly-refurbished Victoria Falls International Airport, he encountered four police roadblocks.
“The Vice-President himself, when I talked to him, he said that he was going to call the Home Affairs minister [Ignatius] Chombo, to really talk about this issue. The police roadblocks are making this destination unattractive. We cannot be attractive when, from Victoria Falls town to the airport, you have four roadblocks,” Kaseke said.
Looking directly at Transport and Infrastructure Development minister Joram Gumbo at the high table, who was the guest of honour, Kaseke remarked: “I know, minister, you were not stopped, but you saw the police, you saw them standing by the road. But I am not a minister; I was stopped four times. What were they [police] asking me? They were asking me about things that are not normally asked by any policeman anywhere else in the world. And I am simply saying that this is a big, big challenge.”
Victoria Falls mayor, Sifiso Mpofu, acknowledged the problem of countless police roadblocks.
The Zimbabwe Tourism Authority (ZTA) yesterday said it has started preparations for this year’s edition of Sanganai/Hlanganani World Tourism Expo to be held in September after getting funding from government.
ZTA chief executive Karikoga Kaseke told a media briefing in the capital that government had committed to fund the premier tourism event and also pay all the debts that were accrued during the previous edition of the event.
Kaseke pointed out that the shifting of dates to September was necessitated by the need for adequate preparations.
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