CHIPINGE - A call has been made to adhere to Communal Areas Management Programme for Indigenous Resources (Campfire) principles in order to benefit tourism.
This came out at an Environment and Tourism Indaba that was organised by the the Ministry of Environment, Tourism and Hospitality Industry.
Campfire is a concept in which communities surrounding wildlife areas are given 15 percent of revenue generated from tourism. The funds are managed by rural district councils on behalf of CAMPFIRE Association. The communities are then given their dividents by the end of each financial year.
Presenting the challenges that tourism is facing in the South East region of Zimbabwe, the Director of Malilangwe Conservancy, Mark Saunders said Campire helps communities to reap benefits from their natural resources.
"The region is losing 409ha of forest per year due to encroachment. This should stop so that people protect their landscapes so as to attract tourism investors in the communities. When people are benefitting from Campfire the people might also stop ttrekking to neighbouring countries to seek employment," said Saunders.
He also revealed that Gonarezhou National Park, which is Zimbabwe's second largest public park after Hwange, has an excess of 11 000 elephants and that the excess has a negative bearing on Gonarezhou environment.
The Malilangwe Conservancy director challenged the ministry to consider having an international airport for the Lowveld.
"In 2015 Malilangwe and Tongaat Huletts refurbished Buffalo Range Airport so as to increase air traffic to the region. We ask for the airport to be given international status.
"The region has all what is needed to have international tourists come directly to the Lowveld. We have the Save, Runde and Limpopo rivers in addition to all the beautiful landscapes and wildlife heritage found here. The region can compete with Victoria Falls if given the same level of attention," he added.
From the mid 1980s when Zimbabwe adopted the CAMPFIRE concept, it was mainly biased towards consumptive tourism that promoted spot hunting in safari areas around national parks. A decade later, green groups through Convention on International Trade of Endangered Species (Cites) advocated for the abolishment of consumptive tourism in favour of consumptive one which means the animal must be shot by a camera trigger than the bullet.
This saw the African elephant categorised as endangered and could not be traded. Debate is still hot whether consumptive or non consumptive tourism is the in thing for Zimbabwe.