China, Zim tourism hubs on the cards

Joseph Madzimure and Ellen Chasokela
PRESIDENT Mnangagwa yesterday urged Chinese investors to take advantage of available opportunities in the tourism sector, mainly in Mashonaland West and Matabeleland North provinces.

He commended the commitment by Zhezhiang Province of China on the twinning arrangement with the two provinces in its quest to turn them into tourism hubs.

Speaking at a business forum between the Zimbabwe and a Chinese business delegation in Harare yesterday, President Mnangagwa said the country has vast tourism opportunities ready to be exploited.

The delegation was led by Ms Ge Huin, chair of the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC), a political legislative advisory body.

Said President Mnangagwa: “I am therefore delighted that Zhezhiang Province’s interest in our country has extended beyond investing in the traditional urban areas. The twinning of Zhezhiang Province with our provinces will go a long way towards expediting the development of all areas of our country.”

He said Matabeleland North has vast opportunities for investment in tourism, especially as it is home to the Seventh Natural Wonder of the World — mighty the Victoria Falls.

The President said investors were welcome to help broaden the tourism products by participating in “ongoing plans to expand Victoria Falls City”.

“The wildlife of the province also provides viable investment prospects,” he added. Already, there are indications that Victoria Falls City would be twinned with Jinhua City of China. The signing of letters on intent is scheduled for tomorrow in the resort town.

President Mnangagwa urged the municipality and residents to embrace the twinning initiative which is expected to “avail vast opportunities” for the people, the town, Matabeleland North province and the country at large.

“I urge you to, therefore, seize this opportunity and turn Victoria Falls into a competitive tourism hub in the region.

“In the same vein, we commend the interest shown by Zhezhiang Province to cooperate with Mashonaland West Province. The province hosts a wide array of tourist attractions such as Kariba Resort, Mana Pools, Chinhoyi Caves and National parks, among others.

“The rich agriculture and favourable rainfall patterns are an added advantage for investments in agriculture and value addition along the agro-value chain industries. The presence of the Chinhoyi University Technology in that province should see more cooperation with Chinese institutions of higher learning to enhance cooperation, knowledge and skills transfer in science, technology and innovation,” he said.

President Mnangagwa said the “Zimbabwe is Open for Business” policy is bearing fruits, hence the need for local businesses and their Chinese counterparts to take advantage of available opportunities.

He commended Touchroad International Holdings of China for fulfilling the memorandum of understanding they signed with the Ministry of Tourism and Hospitality Industry of bringing more tourists, a move which will help the country in attaining an Upper Middle Income status by 2030.

“This audacious vision will surely be a reality with true friends like China and mutually beneficial investments from across the world. I once again assure investors that my Government has put in place the appropriate institutional, legislative and policy framework as well as an enabling environment to ensure the success and growth of all investments,’’ he said.

President Mnangagwa added that his administration is eager to accelerate the modernisation and industrialisation of every economic sector, while also a vibrant rural industry system which guarantees that the development agenda leaves no one behind.

Government also plans to develop a corridor along the Zambezi River from Matabeleland North through to Kariba in Mashonaland West province, and is inviting investors to take up the opportunities.

Mashonaland Central has fertile soils, creating huge scope for lucrative horticulture, floriculture and textile industries.

President Mnangagwa said the convenient air connectivity of the Victoria Falls International Airport could be leveraged for exports into foreign markets.

He added that Matabeleland North’s tag as the springboard of “our country’s energy sector”, has been enhanced by the expansion of Hwange Thermal Power Station under a US$1,3 billion investment by the Chinese, which will see 600MW being generated and fed into the national grid.

President Mnangagwa also said: “I invite investors to pursue the establishment of solar energy farms and plants, by harnessing the abundant sunlight in the province. The presence of coal, lithium, coal bed methane and other mineral resources provide additional prospects in value addition, manufacturing and renewable energy solutions.”

Meanwhile, Wallace Ruzvidzo reports that Ms Ge said Zimbabwe was a “important partner” of China on the continent.

“I would like to extend the sincere gratitude for your considerate arrangement and the wonderful welcome to all the friends here today (yesterday). Zimbabwe is an important partner of China in Africa, we enjoy quite a historical friendship.

“Currently the relationship is at its best period, guided by the ambition and political leadership of President Xi Jinping and His Excellency President Mnangagwa the exchange between Zhezhiang Province and Zimbabwe is increasingly deepened,” she said.

Ms Ge said her coming yesterday was to “comprehensively strengthen” collaboration with Zimbabwe.

The delegation will visit Chinhoyi, Victoria Falls and the National Heroes Acre among other areas.