Story by Tichaona Kurewa
THE tourism and hospitality industry is one of the sectors that bears testimony to the benefits independence.
Before independence, menial jobs were reserved for black people, but the whole matrix has since changed.
The promise and the toil of the liberation struggle has ushered a new era in the tourism and hospitality industry where black people are either key players or proud owners of thriving business ventures.
This is a culmination of the country’s independence, which ushered in vast opportunities for the black majority.
“We have come a long way in the past 17 years. We are grateful for the government’s support. We now own a fleet of tour vehicles to support our line of business. We even managed to expand out of vehicles to Harare. We have also seen a number of black people making significant strides in accommodation services as we have so many lodges run by black people in Victoria Falls and elsewhere,” said a tourism executive, Mr Lovemore Machipisa.
The Hospitality Association of Zimbabwe confirmed the entry of black people in the accommodation services as a masterstroke which has changed the dynamics.
“We have seen mainstream tourism seeing more black players coming into the industry. If you look at how Bulawayo has evolved, predominant accommodation service providers are actually small operators who have filled that gap of not having large hotels. Most of these are owned by women and they are also owned by black operators who have diversified from other industries as explained by Hospitality Association of Zimbabwe President, Mr Farai Chimba.
“Certainly we have seen that tourism can become one of the major contributors to the GDP, currently it sits as the third highest contributor of the GDP and the bulk of that is coming out of small operators and black operators. It’s something that continues to grow and we look forward to more and more players coming into mainstream tourism,”
Safari Operators Association of Zimbabwe President, Dr Emmanuel Fundira is pleased with the paradigm shift which confirms that Zimbabweans are masters of their own destiny.
“Before Independence, you would hardly see any local participating in the tourism industry, what happened since Independence we must be grateful of is that the local people now have the benefit and confidence of participating in this particular sector. I’m talking from the very lower level of tour guides, other levels in terms of running bed and breakfast entities and creating activities such as travel agents and tour operators.
“The change in terms of the political environment was really catalytic in terms of making you and me participate in this industry .I for one was never in tourism until at Independence when I realised that there was really an opportunity in terms of exploiting our own natural resources for the benefit of ourselves,” he said.
Dr Fundira is self-assured of the opportunities that lie ahead based on well organised funding for tourism players to expand their operations.
“What is now needed is to have proper structures that empower these locals to ensure that they have the necessary working capital to be able to establish and run their own entities,” he added.
With the continued support and favourable policies by the Second Republic, black people are poised to achieving more in the tourism industry proving that: Nyika Inovakwa Nevene Vayo, Ilizwe Lakhiwa Ngabanikazi Balo.