The Deputy Minister of Tourism and Hospitality Industry Anastancia Ndhlovu has said that resettled farmers who do not have the proper equipment and resources for drying their tobacco have become a major threat to the forests as they continue to use wood as a source of energy for drying their tobacco. Ndhlovu said this on the occasion of the Zimbabwe Parliament Conservation Caucus Launch in Harare early this week.
The Deputy Minister, who was presenting on “Tourism Development: Challenges and Opportunities” at the Meikles Hotel said that it is imperative for the government to move in quickly through the crafting of new legislation that provides stiffer penalties and provides resources for implementation if ever we are to protect the country from desertification.
“Nyanga is one tourist resort which is fast losing its appeal to tourists due to deforestation. The replacement rate for the trees that are cut down currently stands below zero, meaning no efforts are being made to replace these wild lands,” said Ndhlovu.
In an interview, Marylin Smith, an independent conservationist based in Masvingo said the rate at which deforestation is occurring will convert Zimbabwe into an outright desert in just 35 years if pragmatic solutions are not proffered urgently and also if people keep razoring trees down for firewood without regulation.
(Inter Press Services)
During the meeting, Ndlovu said that the Ministry set itself targets to achieve a $5 billion dollar Tourism economy backed by 5 million arrivals, contributing to 15% to GDP by 2020, which is called 5; 5; 15; 2020.
“We are also diversifying our products to include culture, heritage and historical tourism and indeed, city tourism as city brands are emerging as key destinations…within their configurations, there is always a component of nature and this is the reason why we are promoting the concept of city parks. A visit to Harare without going to Mbizi Game Park, and the lion and Cheater Park or Lake Chivero will not be enough.” concluded the Deputy Minister
Zimbabwe was awarded the world best Tourism cultural destination of the year in 2014.