Illegal economic sanctions imposed on Zimbabwe by western nations have crippled the performance of the entire economy and the Tourism sector has not been spared as several airlines have pulled out of the country while airports were denied access to purchase spares and backup service support from western countries.
While many sectors in the country have been adversely affected by illegal sanctions, the story of the devastation caused by these measures can never be complete without the mention of the countryâ€™s Tourism sector.
Before the sanctions were imposed, Zimbabwe used to receive more than 2, 5 million tourists every year.
However, that figure has since gone down to less than a million in recent years.
Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Tourism and Hospitality Industry Dr Silvester Maunganidze said, sanctions have hit the transport sector and industry in general which are feeders to the Tourism sector resulting in the reduction in tourist arrivals.
Before the country was hit by sanctions, 45 airlines were serving the country and to date only 7 airlines are plying the route resulting in few tourists visiting the country.
Zimbabwe Council of Tourism President Mr. Emmanuel Fundira said as a result of sanctions, the country failed to source spares and backup support services for the airports as the source markets like Germany had imposed sanctions on the country.Â
He said the drying up of lines of credit to industry owing to the impact of sanctions had negative spill over effects on the Tourism sector.
Environment and Natural resources Minister Cde Francis Nhema said the travel bans imposed on Zimbabwe have seen less people visiting the country.
Government has however come up with strategies aimed at reviving operations of the sector including the liberalisation of the sector as well as luring investors, a situation which has breathed life into Tourism.
The Zimbabwean Tourism sector has been rated by the world Tourism organisation as one of the fastest growing tourism economy currently at number three with potential to be second after China if properly exploited.
The 2010 national budget projects that the Tourism sector will be the fastest growing sector in the country with an anticipated growth rate of over 20%.
However, the slow recovery of the sector due to continued sanctions has led observers to conclude that it is difficult for the country to achieve full economic recovery without a vibrant tourism sector.