BY TATIRA ZWINOIRA NewsDay
Through the partnership, Zimbabwe Tourism Authority is seeking to craft minimum guidelines for the sector to progress, reduce costs, improve technology, and reduce wastage of time.
ZTA official, Sugar Chagonda said the guidelines will make tourism cheaper, as it would require tourist operators to improve on technologies. “Once the impact of green tourism is fully realised, it will be cheaper for the tourism sector, as we will be using better technology and avoid wastage. Marketing will be more efficient, as some tourists will look to first see if tourist operators are meeting green tourism guidelines before purchasing a tourist package,” he said. “Our wish is to make sure green tourism guidelines are enforced and to make sure all tourist facilities are green tourism compliant.”Chagonda said they were engaging stakeholders within the tourism industry to explain the concept of green tourism through enforcing regulations towards its implementation.
The programme, a partnership between ZTA, Green Tourism Programme (UK) and Environment Africa, is expected to be implemented over the next five years. As build-up towards the crafting of the minimum green tourism guidelines for the sector progresses, a pilot programme is underway for the green tourism certification of operators in Victoria Falls. The pilot assessment has started with the Certification Award Ceremony scheduled for March 2, 2016 at in Victoria Falls. “We are very happy with the uptake in the tourism sector, but obviously being green tourism compliant will help increase the uptake with in the sector,” Chagonda said.
The Green Tourism Programme is based in the United Kingdom and started in 1996 through a collaboration by VisitScotland and Tourism and the Environment Forum (TEF). TEF was funded jointly by VisitScotland and Scottish Enterprise, the Scottish economic development agency. TEF has researched competitive destinations around the world. It was felt that developing a green grading programme to complement the world leading quality standard operated by VisitScotland would give businesses in Scotland a competitive advantage in comparison to these other destinations. In September 1997, Shetland Environmental Agency (SEA) won the tender to deliver the grading assessments for the Green Tourism Business Scheme and have been operating since.