Troutbeck in Nyanga. Image credit

ZIMSEC O Level Geography Notes: Tourism Industry in Zimbabwe

  • Tourism has been the world’s fastest growing industry due to a number of factors.
  • This growth has been taking place in both developed and developing countries although growth rates have been varying between countries.
  • The greatest attribute of tourism as a service industry lies in its ability to generate money and other spin-offs beneficial to other sectors of the economy and the people in general.
  • For a country to be able to attract many tourists, it must possess the attributes required to lure the tourists themselves.
  • The attributes or attractions can be divided into two groups: physical and human.
  • We will look at Kenya and Zimbabwe.
Physical attractions
Physical attractions
Mt Kenya
mountain climbing, photography and skiing
Victoria Falls
the waterfalls, the rainbow, the rainforest, the spray, gorges, bunji jumping and many more
Rift Valley
viewning lakes and volcanoes, photography, safari rally
The granite topography, caves, mountains, birds, wildlife
L. Turkana
Bird viewing- millions
the mountain
Malindi- marine
warm climate, beaches, coral reefs
limestone caves, paintings
forests, wildlife, plateaus
Tsavo National Park
wildlife, savanna ecosystem
wildlife, lodges, vegetations
the Masai people, escarpments, volcaboes, vegetation
wildlife, scenery
wildlife and scenery
Lake Kariba
fishing, boating, bird viewing, george
wildlife, scenery
Mana Pools
Ft. Jesus (Mombasa)Sapi/Chewore/Dande
wildlife, hunting, scenery
wildlife, hotels,Kenyatta International Conference cntre
Kyle/Great Zimbabwe
fish, wildlife, the Mushandike ruins, African village
Botanic gardens, heroes' acre, city life
  • Kenya has a bigger and better-developed tourism industry than Zimbabwe.
  • This is because it has more varied attractions to offer.
  • It is closer to Europe (tourist source) and the ocean than Zimbabwe.
  • Another reason is that it has a more stable government/political system than Zimbabwe.
  • Tourism has both positive and negative effects in areas where it is established.

Positive effects of tourism

  • Employment creation – people are employed as drivers, tour guides, wardens, hoteliers and in ministry under which the industry falls.
  • Development of infrastructure – tourist resorts must be accessible to the clientele and as such good roads must be built linking them bigger urban centres. For example the airport at Victoria Falls have been upgraded.
  • Boost in the construction industry – roads, airports, hotels and shops are built at tourist resorts together with residential areas for workers. Eventually some urban centres have grown up for example Victoria Falls, Livingstone and Nyanga.
  • Growth in the craft industry – tourists have a tendency of buying souvenirs to take home in the form of curios. In Zimbabwe, along all highways used by tourists and at tourists resorts themselves, thriving businesses in the craft industry have been set up to sell pottery, carvings, bark rugs, and baskets.
  • Foreign currency earnings – this is perhaps the greatest aim of establishing tourism in a country. In Zimbabwe, tourists must pay for anything their hotel bills, their car hire and food in foreign currency.
  • Income generation – besides foreign currency, locals working for the industry earn incomes which they use to support their families.
  • Cultural exchange – this occurs when people of different cultures intermingle.
  • Environmental protection – to sustain tourism in an area, the environment is protected in its totality, that is, flora and fauna, rivers, hills and many others. This benefits future generations as species will not become extinct. CAMPFIRE benefits are being realized in many communal areas in Zimbabwe adjacent to game parks and safari areas.

Negative effects of tourism

  • Cultural pollution – traditional cultures die as young people adopt western cultures.
  • Land and water pollution – some tourist resorts such as Victoria Falls are over-used to the extent that litter is dumped anywhere hence polluting the landscape.
  • Increase in crime and prostitution – Some tourists are drug traffickers who want to use tourism as a front to market their products, selling drugs to local people. Other indulge in prostitution, in the process spreading sexually transmitted diseases (STDs), HIV and AIDS. Paying in foreign currency, they easily find clients in the local population.
  • Menial jobs for locals – local people are usually employed to do low-paying manual jobs as high paying ones are reserved for foreigners.
  • Repatriation of profits – most profits are repatriated as the industry is in the hands of foreigners with the result that countries like Zimbabwe earn very little.
  • Land use conflicts – agricultural land which could have been used by locals is taken up by tourist attractions, national and game parks, roads, hotels and yet the locals gain very little from this tourism.
  • Looking at the new trends and problems in tourism it can be noticed that there has been developed what is called sustainable utilization of tourist resources so that future generation find them in their natural state.
  • In this regard, the United Nations has declared some of the spectacular places like Victoria Falls, ‘World heritage sites’.
  • In Zimbabwe, the need for locals to benefit directly from tourist attractions in their area has led to the development of the Communal Areas Management Programme for Indigenous Resource (CAMPFIRE) concept.
  • Globally, there has been development of ecotourism, a concept directly linked to sustainable use of resources.
  • With the development of paid holidays at workplaces, holiday clubs, budgets and group tourism is on the increase especially in advanced countries.
  • Zimbabwe’s tourism industry is facing a terrible decline because of the bad publicity the country is receiving as result of the political challenges the country is facing.

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