By Daniel Chigundu
ZIMBABWE Tourism Authority (ZTA) acting chief executive Rita Likukuma says heritage and tourism trails play an important role in attracting tourists globally and that the country should not be left behind.
According to UNESCO and UNWTO, heritage tourism accounts for about 40% of global tourism arrivals
Addressing delegates in Bulawayo at the 20th Anniversary Joshua Nkomo Day Commemorations – Joshua Nkomo Legacy Walk and Umdala Wethu Dance, Likukuma said the country must position itself to tap into this market.
“One of our tourism pillars as a tourism destination is “Our Rich History and Culture”. The Joshua Nkomo Heritage Trails seek to document and provide a narrative that will enhance our rich history as a nation.
“Global statistics from the United
Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation, Statistical Unit and United Nations World Tourism Organisation have indicated that Heritage tourism contributes more than 40% to world tourism arrivals.
“We, therefore, must position our destination properly in order to tap into this market. We cannot afford to continue to be left out on a portion of this ready market when we have so much to offer,” she said.
The acting ZTA boss added that she has seen that the country offers a huge potential in heritage and trails tourism and that her team has noted of some of the ideas of developing the sector and will soon be meeting to map the way forward.
“I have been in the procession today, I have seen its potential for tourism, I have learnt more and stand better equipped to market my country as a preferred tourism destination.
“My team is on the ground with me they have taken note of how to develop this product we will reconvene with the Trust to map a solid way forward to bring this dream to life.
“We remain committed working with other relevant partners in developing these trails until they are a fully-fledged tourism product. Our offices are open to partners who wish to come on board and help us develop this important tourism product,” she said.
ZTA has been working with the Joshua Nkomo Trust since 2018 which saw them partnering in launching The Joshua Nkomo Tourism Heritage Trails in a bid to identify and develop tourism products that have potential to enhance the country’s product offering.
The tourism authority is of the view that heritage and tourism trails are routes that seek to take one on a historic journey around a particular event or a person. Trails when properly packaged can benefit communities as they often lead to the heart of communities as is the case of the Joshua Nkomo Heritage Trails.
Trails have become a new phenomenon not only in Africa but globally and Likukuma said “today let us sample as much of our cultural and heritage tourism product as you can, drink our local beer, eat our sadza, relish amacimbi, explore, meet the locals from this and other visiting communities, make friends, enjoy and respect our heritage and culture.
“Enjoy the concert that is to follow and have a memorable 20th Anniversary Joshua Nkomo Day Commemorations,” she said.