Published on : Monday, August 14, 2017
For Zimbabweans, perceptions and attitudes to tourism have not been influenced by poverty, a general lack of interest or ignorance, but mainly by the fact that local communities have not been fully initiated and factored in the national tourism management policies.
Local people in Zimbabwe have limited knowledge about tourism, because it is believed only foreigners are important to the growth of tourism. Hence, it is important that such perceptions are deconstructed, so that new and progressive world views are given a chance. Sustainable tourism approaches need to be implemented.
In the situation right now, local communities feel ostracised and shunned from tourism, an activity they are expected to participate in. Average South Africans cannot visit tourist attractions, as the fees are excessive.
For quite a long time, local communities have been cultured to learn about the Victoria Falls, the Great Zimbabwe monument, Matopos Hills, Hwange National Parks, the picturesque Eastern Highlands and many such places from newspapers, radio and television. If local people play a sustainable role in tourism development, then they would take it upon themselves for ensuring that these areas are protected.
In this regard, there are many issues, which are detrimental to community tourism like the charges which are beyond most locals, language that is not inclusive and the reluctance of responsible authorities to be people-centric. Education and awareness programmes are absolutely important for local conscientisation and appreciation. Community-based tourist and climate information centres are necessary in this regard and will move a long way in closing this gap.
People, especially the youth also need to share information and knowledge about tourist destinations.