The church has a great potential of assisting government in promoting the country’s tourism sector which is beginning to show signs of recovery from more than decade long decline which emanated from unfavorable portrayal of the country by the media, a cabinet Minister has said.
Tourism and Hospitality Minister Walter Mzembi said on Monday while briefing the media on the progress his ministry has made so far in preparing for official launch the National Tourism Policy due this Thursday at the Celebration Centre in Harare
Mzembi said they have started identifying churches to work with in promoting tourism.
The Celebration Centre is owned by Pastors Tom and Bonnie Deuschle the co-founders of Celebrate International based in Harare.
“Some of you may ask why we are launching the National Tourism Policy at the Celebration Centre. This gesture is in line with keeping with one of the major thrusts of the National Tourism policy to explore new tourism niche markets among them Religious Tourism to diversify and grow the tourism cake,” explained Mzembi.
According to latest government statistics on tourism the country recorded a two percent growth in tourist arrivals from 1 794 230 in 2012 to 1 832 570 in 2013.
Despite the increase, the arrivals have not yet reached 2, 2 million tourists the highest peak which was recorded in 1999.
The government says most of the 2013 tourists were low-spending visitors from mainland Africa who came in at 1 570 799.
Mzembi said in countries like Nigeria religion had played a big role in promoting tourism.
“ In countries like Nigeria example despite the picture painted by international media it appears the pull by a Nigerian Pastor has surpassed the fear of Boko Haram ,when it comes to tourists arrivals in that country.
“The scene at the Murtala Muhammed international airport in Lagos on Thursday 12 June 2014 was lively as people flocked to the birthday of T.B Joshua, ”Mzembi added,“ According to statistics from the Nigerian Immigration Service’s six out of every ten foreign travelers coming into Nigeria are bound to the Synagogue Church of All Nations”.