NATIONAL Arts Council of Zimbabwe (Nacz) director Elvas Mari has called on the Tourism and Hospitality Industry ministry to strike healthy collaborations with artistes, as a way of pushing for growth of the local tourism sector.
Mari, who addressed a National Consultative Stakeholder Tourism Strategy workshop on Thursday last week, said tourism had its basis in the creative industries and many foreign visitors come to have a taste of local life largely depicted by art products.
Mari told the workshop, which was jointly hosted by the Zimbabwe Tourism Authority and the Tourism ministry, that the arts sector was “the software of tourism”.
“We need to have very good synergies between tourism and culture because (without that) there would be no point for anyone then deciding to come to Zimbabwe, they can as well go anywhere where they can get the same thing,” he said.
“The arts, as you know, are the reason why tourists come. If you look at tourists that come, they come because they want to taste and enjoy the Zimbabwe in us.”
Mari also emphasised the support for local knowledge systems to ensure value addition to the local cultural values, whose uniqueness is a drawcard to both foreign and local tourists.
“We are most fortunate because most of our arts in this country are quite unique and of high quality (and) we can get that as a drawcard for anyone who would choose to go elsewhere to come to Zimbabwe,” he said adding that there cannot be tourism without arts.
In a speech to officially launch the workshop, Vice-President Constantino Chiwenga also said the growth strategy must integrate diversity of the tourism product including culture and heritage.
“Apart from the undeniable interest in our natural and man-made attractions, our culture is unique and can be a bedrock to developing competitive Zimbabwean products,” he said.
According to organisers of the event, the strategy in formulation was meant to foster a shared vision on the development and promotion of tourism in line with repositioning Zimbabwe as an investment hub.
Different stakeholders had converged to map out a way forward for the once-thriving sector, whose fortunes have waned over the year, owing to many socio-political problems.