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Zimbabwe Tourism Minister Mzembi: The boy is back in town

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Having been occupied with the UNWTO Secretary General Election,  Tourism and Hospitality Industry minister Walter Mzembi from Zimbabwe is set to take on his Home Affairs counterpart, Ignatius Chombo, in Cabinet on the issue of police’s heavy presence on the country’s roads, which he says is deterring tourists from visiting the country. By Fidelity Mhlanga.

A boisterous Mzembi yesterday promised that the issue would be dealt with. “The concern is about excessive presence of police,” he said.

“I am back. The boy is back in town. The issue will be dealt with.

A visitor exit survey (VES) done by the Zimbabwe National Statistical Agency (Zimstat), released in February this year, said harassment by the police constituted the highest percentage of reasons why leaving tourists would not recommend the country to potential visitors at 43,2%.

This was followed by harassment by Zimbabwe Revenue Authority officers at 14,7% and harassment by Immigration was at 8,7%.

“We will mainstream it through the Cabinet. Whatever what the survey (VES) is talking about must not be seen as an affront,” Mzembi said.

VES surveyed 38 680 foreign tourists over a 12-month period between 2015 and November 2016.

There has been a national outcry over the number of police roadblocks on the country’s roads, but the police and the Home Affairs Ministry have justified this, claiming the Zimbabwe Republic Police was ensuring safety and security.

However, critics are convinced the numerous roadblocks are a fundraising ploy by the police, an accusation the force has rejected.

Mzembi said the government, through the Zimbabwe Tourism Authority, was working with various communities throughout the country on community-based tourism projects and enterprises in order to achieve inclusivity and sustainable socio-economic growth, employment creation and poverty reduction.

“Community-based tourism (CBT) are projects owned and/or managed by communities and offer services to tourists while generating wider community benefits,” he said.

Mzembi was speaking ahead of the launch of International Year of Sustainable Tourism for Development, whose official launch will be on Friday, with Vice-President Emmerson Mnangagwa as the guest of honor.