Patrick Chitumba — Bulawayo Bureau
PLAYERS in the tourism sector have applauded the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe (RBZ) for granting them a 100 percent foreign currency retention, saying the bold move would assist the sector to recapitalise and enhance recovery from the adverse effects of the Covid-19 pandemic.
Industry leaders had previously lobbied the authorities for the waiver citing loss of business during the pandemic period and the need to develop adequate capacity to procure essential goods and beefing up infrastructure so as to attract travellers.
The export retention facility demands that all exporting businesses surrender 40 percent of their forex earnings to the apex bank and retain 60 percent.
In his 2022 Monetary Policy Statement on Monday, RBZ Governor Dr John Mangudya said the tourism sector was hard-hit by the pandemic hence the waiver.
Reacting to this, tourism executive, Mr Clement Mukwasi, commended the RBZ stance saying it will lead to the rebirth of the tourism sector after being shattered by Covid-19.
"The decision by the Government is a key enabler of recovery and growth of the tourism industry. We are happy that they have listened to the voice of the industry," he said.
"With the foreign currency we are going to retain, the sector will be able to recapitalise and implement new strategies to make the country a destination of choice."
Mr Mukwasi said the pandemic had affected the country's tourism sector, which usually relies on foreign tourists and business meetings for revenue generation.
"We hope that as soon as the situation improves, international land borders, particularly those leading into Victoria Falls, which has a head immunity will be opened.
"Once they open, we are optimistic of increased arrivals, which translates to more foreign currency inflows for the sector," he said.
Tourism Business Council of Zimbabwe president, Mr Wengai Nhau, said the industry had been lobbying for RBZ to waive the retention requirement.
"The latest move by RBZ is a welcome move for the sector.
"Previously we were at 60 percent retention and 40 percent surrender at the interbank rate of exchange," he said.
"The industry was losing a lot of money that is potential revenue as you probably know that our input cost most of them are in US dollar and so for us to have to surrender 40 percent of our proceeds would mean that we are not making enough money."
He expressed optimism that this window would help the sector realise quick benefits that will transform the industry.
Business Economic Empowerment Forum president, Dr Solomon Matsa, said tourism was one of the pillars of the economy.
"We welcome the move by the RBZ as it speaks of commitment by the Government to see the growth of the tourism sector and the economy in general," he said.
"These are positives that also impact positively on communities through downstream benefits for the growth of the economy."