NIGERIAN Tour Operators who recently went on a familiarization tour of Zimbabwe from 11 – 15 March in Bulawayo, Hwange and Victoria Falls have heaped praises on the country’s tourist sites and have committed to bringing groups of visitors.
Ndubuisi Ukpabi of Tour Brokers International said they were amazed at what the country has to offer, adding that Nigerian tourists would gladly come.
“We are amazed at what Zimbabwe has to offer and would proudly want to announce that we are committing to bringing groups of Nigerian tourists without fail in the next 12 months to enjoy Zimbabwe A World of Wonders,” Ukpabi said.
Nigeria which has a population of about 180 million people is seen as a great potential in terms of increasing tourism traffic to Zimbabwe.
Commenting on the matter, Zimbabwe Tourism Authority (ZTA) chief executive Dr Karikoga Kaseke said the return on the educational tour by Nigerians is too huge and that it’s a milestone in trying to gain lost ground on the African market.
“I can confirm that the Nigerian tour operators that we hosted on an educational tour have signed commitment forms which stated that they would send groups to Zimbabwe within the next 12 months.
‘The return on investment we expect from this group is high as they have already received favourable Standard Tour Operator (STO) rates from the tourism industry in Zimbabwe and are planning packages for the July, August and September holidays in Nigeria.
“We believe this is a major milestone pursuant to gaining ground in this untapped African market,” he said.
Dr Kaseke, however, bemoaned the absence of market representation in Nigeria and access issues as being major hindrances to tapping into the Nigerian market.
“It is appalling to note that South Africa received 50 921 arrivals in 2017 down from 65 599 in 2016 while we received just 1 979 in 2017 down from 2 641 in 2016.
“Clearly our own figures are a joke in comparison to South Africa but it is because their tourism is prioritized and well – resourced besides the fact that they also have daily flights from Nigeria.
“South Africa has its representatives in their tourist office who are stationed in Nigeria to promote South Africa in Nigeria. We have nothing of that nature so surely how do we expect to get tourists from there?”
Meanwhile, Ukpabi has revealed that the trip to Zimbabwe was an eye opener to what the country offers, adding that there was a need to promote intra-African travel.
“The trip was an eye-opener to what Zimbabwe has to offer, it is truly a destination that is set apart to form the usual experiences we have seen. We would like to promote intra-African travel as only we as Africans can grow our continent by first visiting each other than going to Europe or Americas for holidays. Through such partnerships as with Kenya Airways we can easily access beautiful destination Zimbabwe.” he added.