Tourism stakeholders in Zimbabwe, although unsure, don’t expect the government’s announcement to make the Zimbabwean dollar the sole currency for legal tender purposes to impact international tourists significantly.
The decision came into effect on June 24, ending the multicurrency regime the country has been using. A Government Gazette issued on the day states: “…the British pound, United States dollar, South African rand, Botswana pula and any other foreign currency whatsoever shall no longer be legal tender alongside the Zimbabwe dollar in any transactions in Zimbabwe.”
But Shane White, Chief Sales and Marketing Officer at Wild Horizons, says that, as far as Wild Horizons is aware, foreign payments will continue to be accepted at ports of entry for things such as visa payments. “Foreign credit cards will continue to be accepted at hotels, shops, restaurants etc as they simply apply the applicable rate of exchange on the transaction. This will also apply to booking activities with us and other operators.”
Shane says the change is intended to bring Zimbabwe back to a situation where it has its own currency once more. “The main difference now is that a person going into a local shop will only be able to pay cash in local currency. Credit cards will be accepted.”
For local business owners
Zimbabwe’s central bank has also ordered companies and all stakeholders to stick to new regulations outlawing the use of foreign currency for local transactions by ensuring that all prices of commodities and services are marked in bond and Real Time Gross Settlement (RTGS) denominations.
In a statement issued on Tuesday, June 25, and signed by the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe’s Exchange Control director, C. Tembo, the central bank said company executives should, with immediate effect, discontinue the multiple currency system.
Bernie Cragg, Director at Far and Wide, a tour operator in the Eastern Highlands of Zimbabwe, says the latest development made the working environment difficult. “It’s too early to tell. Hopefully it will return Zimbabwe to normalcy. Everyone has been encouraged to spend money of late by allowing the US$/RTGS$ rate to run. The Ministry of Finance have effectively reduced RTGS balances in bank accounts to a manageable amount that can now perhaps be covered by the US$ cash reserves the Ministry has built up. But everything is so unpredictable and it is a very difficult environment to operate in,” said Cragg.
He said they would engage the Zimbabwe Tourism Authority for clarity on whether to charge and accept payments from non-residents in foreign currency. “We have to comply with Government directives and the law and are only quoting prices and accepting payment in Z$ for local residents.”