Harare — Zimbabwe could lose investment capital amounting to US$2 million in the tourism sector owing to unfavourable conditions and policies, Zimbabwe Council for Tourism president Mr Emmanuel Fundira has said.

Speaking in an interview on the sidelines of the NECF business forum last week, Mr Fundira said: “Investors are willing to bring in not less than US$2 million in the wildlife sector, but cannot do so because of the current environmental policies.

“Authorities also need to review the current interbank rate and allow it to be market regulated to give true value to investors,” he said.

He added that the decline in foreign tourism receipts is due to the challenging environment characterised by lower bank rate and fixed exchange rates.

“We are calling upon the Government to create an enabling environment in the tourism sector in order to attract investors.

“There is need for the country to promote the right environment and adopt policies that are conductive to tourism investment as this could improve the prospects for the sector,” he said.

Despite the challenges which the sector is facing, Mr Fundira said, players are making efforts to ensure that the country derives maximum benefits from the 2010 World Cup soccer showcase to be hosted by South Africa.

The tourism sector is now improving immensely following aggressive marketing strategies employed by authorities in the sector.

Tourism used to contribute about 10 percent of the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) in the 1990’s and accounted for over US$250 million in the year but registered less than US$30 million in 2008.

Meanwhile, the global financial crisis has adversely affected Zimbabwe’s tourism sector, an official said on Thursday.

Addressing parliamentarians at a special diplomatic workshop organised for legislators, Rainbow Tourism Group chief executive, Ms Chipo Mutasa said the effects of the financial meltdown were beginning to be felt in the country.

“The industry is slowing down due to the global financial crisis and not only Zimbabwe but the whole continent has been affected,” she said.

Ms Mutasa said African tourists were now contributing only four percent to the country’s world tourist arrivals, down from 20 percent before the global financial crisis hit about two months ago.

She added that many countries worldwide were facing financial problems resulting in the closure of credit lines, which in turn affected the tourism sector.

The RTG boss said another factor affecting tourism in the country was the unavailability of such resources as fuel for the movement of visitors.

She said there was need to develop new tourism resorts and to refurbish the existing ones in order to attract new markets.

“There is need to develop new resort areas so that we attract new markets while refurbishing the already existing infrastructure,” said Ms Mutasa.

She highlighted that the sector would greatly improve if foreign investors ventured into the sector.

“The issue of crime also needs to be visited as most tourists are losing their valuable goods in resort areas, for instance in Manicaland.”

The industry, Ms Mutasa said, was expecting to generate about US$2 billion by 2010 and to increase its contrib- ution to the country’s Gross Domestic Product to 12 percent.

“We aim to improve and reposition the image of the country in both the traditional and emerging markets so that tourist arrivals will increase,” she said, adding that the industry remained with the challenge of boosting domestic tourism.