Harare — THE Zimbabwe Council for Tourism will spend US$3 million on equipping critical service personnel with essential customer service skills ahead of the 2010 soccer World Cup in South Africa in June.
ZCT, through the Ministry of Tourism and Hospitality Industry, obtained US$1,5 million from a local non-governmental organisation, Zimhost, for the personnel training initiative.
The tourism sector representative body would chip in with an additional US$1,5 million towards the US$3 million personnel training programme.
ZCT president Emmanuel Fundira told Herald Business that the initiative would cover all critical customer service personnel from both the private and public sectors ahead of the football showpiece.
Mr Fundira said the training programme would involve key service personnel from such areas as the tourism sector, immigration, police, army and the Zimbabwe Revenue Authority, among many others.
The aim, said the ZCT boss, was to change the customer service culture in the country for better to reap full benefits from the World Cup.
“We have secured funding from an NGO (Zimhost) for improvement of the customer service delivery system and we will train all stakeholders who are Zimbabwean nationals to improve customer service.
“We sought to partner Government in promoting tourism and this came through support from the NGO in which the parties will each contribute 50 percent to the total budget for the training programme.
“We initiated the idea to train people in customer service in various facets so that when we interface with visitors, there is a marked difference in the national
customer service delivery culture,” he said.
Zimhost was formed to foster the spirit of unconditional, collective hospitality in Zimbabwe by improving service standards nationally through training, and creating awareness of the importance of the individual’s role in their place of work, and as ambassadors of their community and of their country.
Founding sponsors were the Zimbabwe Tourism Authority, Organisation Training & Development and African Sun Limited, Delta Corporation, Qantas Airways, Rainbow Tourism Group, United Touring Company, Meikles Africa, Barclays Bank, Abercrombie & Kent, Europcar Interrent and Cresta Hospitality.
Mr Fundira cited the usual chaotic manner in which immigration formalities were handled at Beitbridge as falling short of expectations.
He said there was a world of difference in the quality of customer service between hosts South Africa and Zimbabwe, the closest neighbour with the capacity to handle spillover tourists from the soccer showcase.
It was against this background that Mr Fundira said Government was overly excited about private sector efforts to assist in ensuring Zimbabwe was best prepared for the global soccer show.
ZCT had been worried that lack of financial resources to fund tourism promotion initiatives would make it difficult for the country to draw the full benefits of South Africa’s hosting of the World Cup.
This was after ZTA received a US$400 000 allocation from the National Budget, which the private sector considered negligible, to push the national tourism agenda.
ZTA had projected that the country could rake in more than US$500 million if adequate preparations were made to promote the local tourism industry ahead of the football extravaganza.
However, this appeared a difficult feat to achieve in the face of the financial resources available to fund preparatory requirements.