Minister of Tourism and Hospitality, Prisca Mupfumira told Bulawayo24 that some of the country’s products were not competitively priced, particularly the hotels, and that local destination pricing was viewed as expensive when compared with regional benchmarks. Furthermore, she admitted that the pricing factor was a deterrent for both domestic and international tourists.
Yet, according to Gavin Rennie, Director of local tour operator, Off2Africa, Zimbabwe is competitively priced when compared with other hotels, lodges, and camps in the region. However, what increases the price of an itinerary is the lack of reliable commercial domestic flight connectivity in Zimbabwe’s tourism destinations.
“Travellers have to rely on light aircraft charters, or relatively expensive car hire to get around,” adds Rennie.
The sentiment was shared by CEO of Private Safaris, Monika Iuel, who looked at the pricing. Comparing Zambia to Zimbabwe’s side of Victoria Falls, she found the Zambian side of Victoria Falls to be more expensive than Zimbabwe’s.
Furthermore, impacting on the country’s tourism potential is that Zimbabwe’s tourism sector is subjected to a myriad of taxes, with some of the fees and charges levied by Government agencies used to finance operational costs, since they are not adequately funded by the Government, says Rennie.
“For Zimbabwe to become more competitively priced, Government should review their taxation and levy policies to bring down the cost of tourism products. Furthermore, Government should encourage and make way for commercial airlines to ply our domestic routes, without Government protection of our national carrier (Air Zimbabwe),” says Rennie. “This way, Zimbabwe would attract more visitors and the fantastic tourism attractions that are further off the beaten track would be given the opportunity to show off their unique experiences to the world.”
Mupfumira during an interview with Bulawayo24, said: “We have set up a committee to look into the pricing issues, not only for hotels, but for national parks. They are expensive.”