Dilapidated rail network stifles Zimbabwe tourism growth

THE dilapidated railway system in the country is one of the major setbacks that frustrate growth in the tourism sector, a Zimstat survey has shown.

According to a Zimbabwe Visitor Exit Survey (VES) for the year 2015/2016, a number of tourists are keen to enter the country using the railway transport system.

Although many visitors use buses, private cars and air transport when coming into the country, the survey recommends the need to “resuscitate the rail system as it offers diverse experience for travelling tourists”.

Further, the survey indicates that the country could attract more international tourists to Zimbabwe through capacitating Air Zimbabwe to service international routes especially key source markets like USA, UK and China, among others.

The survey also recommends that in order to derive more tourism revenue from transit visitors, there is a need to construct appropriate infrastructure such as drive inn shopping facilities to encourage visitors to spend more time during their process of transiting.

Speaking during the launch of the survey results in Bulawayo last week, a Zimbabwe Tourism Authority official, Mrs Sophie Zirebwa, said tourists get stuck in one area because of poor connectivity between road, rail and air networks and this stifles the growth of domestic tourism as tourists would find it difficult to explore the country.

Another stakeholder responding to poor connectivity said lack of new technology at the National Railways of Zimbabwe (NRZ) and lack of new players at Air Zimbabwe were contributing factors that hinder domestic tourism.

Meanwhile, VES indicated that there is a need to attract more airlines into Zimbabwe as well as liberalise the domestic routes for more players because very few visitors use air transport within the country.

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Source: The Chronicle

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