Zimbabwe’s tourism industry is on a rebound and nothing will stop the country from regaining its status as one of the leading destinations in Africa, Zimbabwe Tourism Authority chief executive Mr. Karikoga Kaseke has said.
Speaking to guests at the Zimbabwe stand at Indaba 2013 in Durban yesterday, Mr. Kaseke said the return of several airlines and the refurbishment of tourism facilities countrywide was an indication that tourism was on the up.
“Zimbabwe is unstoppable, we are on a rebound and you can tell from the unfolding events. If you look at the aviation industry, for instance, a lot of airlines have renewed interest with us and our own Air Zimbabwe is on a rebound as well.
“I am sure that at the Indaba next year, we will be launching a rebranded Air Zimbabwe. Aviation reflects what is happening on the tourism side and these are the signs.”
Zimbabwe tourism will be boosted by a tourism congress this year but still has a long way to go, according to Africa-based hospitality firm Africa Aldiba Tourism. “Zimbabwe tourism is on the way up – obviously it’s been a rough time between 2000 and 2011 but we have turned a significant corner,” says Ross Kennedy.
Mr Kaseke applauded one of the exhibitors at the Zimbabwe stand, Bumi Hills Safari Lodge as well as Rainbow Tourism Group for upgrading their facilities in line with the drive to improve the industry in Zimbabwe.
Also present at the function was Tourism and Hospitality Minister Walter Mzembi and Zimbabwean-born sensational Super Rugby player Tendai “The Beast” Mtawarira who plays for the Sharks. His presence generated a lot of interest among the guests who were scrambling for a photo opportunity with “The Beast”.
There has been a notable interest with the Zimbabwe stand, which included foreign media teams such as the BBC, CNN and SABC requesting for interviews with Minister Mzembi.
The foreign media which erstwhile had a negative attitude towards Zimbabwe seem to be on a re-engagement drive and striving to present the true Zimbabwe story.
One of the exhibitors who asked not to be named said more and more people were opening up to Zimbabwe and they were happy to re-engage them.
The exhibitors said they had seen an improvement in the quality of buyers that were visiting the stand and were looking for meaningful engagement with the tour operators.
The interest on the Zimbabwe stand has been heightened with the focus on the hosting of the 20th UNWTO General Assembly to be co-hosted by Zimbabwe and Zambia in August.
Mr. Kaseke observed that there has never been so much focus on Zimbabwe as a destination and the ZTA would continue to facilitate the re-engagement initiative to enhance the tourism industry.
Among the 38 exhibitors from Zimbabwe were hoteliers, tour operators, travel agencies, the national carrier Air Zimbabwe and the Civil Aviation Authority of Zimbabwe.
Minister Mzembi on Sunday signed a Memorandum of Understanding with his counterpart from the Seychelles Mr. Alain St-Ange to strengthen relations between the two countries.
The minister continued to meet dignitaries from various countries who attended the four-day international travel showcase.
The nation is set to benefit from hosting the United Nations World Travel Organisation (UNWTO) congress in August this year, according to Kennedy.
“This is a remarkable opportunity that doesn’t come along very often and we have the whole world looking at us,” he said.
Kennedy told Travel Today that the cooperation between tourism operators in Zimbabwe is “magnificent” and that they will work together to showcase the nation to the UNWTO.
“As a country we have matured, grown and developed and will continue to do so,” he said.
|Fast Facts about Zimbabwe:|
|Area||390 757 sq. km|
|Population||Approx. 13 million|
|Independence||18 April 1980|
|Density||26 per sq. km|
|Number of Provinces||8|
|Adult Literacy Rate||+/- 90 % (among highest in Africa)|
|Highest Peak||Mount Nyangani (2593 meters)|
Date: 14 May 2013