By Daniel Chigundu
ZIMBABWE Tourism Authority (ZTA) chief executive Dr Karikoga Kaseke has called on the tourism sector to use the peace that prevails in the country as a tourism selling point.
The country is highly ranked in the world especially by the World Economic Forum (WEF) in terms of peace and tranquillity, but it has not taken advantage of the ranking to lure tourism and if anything the number of arrivals has been on a free-fall.
Although it enjoys peace and is not under any form of threat from terrorists, Zimbabwe has failed to attract as many tourists as some other countries that are in conflicts or under threat.
Addressing delegates at the conferment of Virginia Mukwesha as Zimbabwe’s Tourism Ambassador to Germany and all Germany speaking nations, Dr Kaseke said no matter how much the people are suffering but they have turned against tourists like what happens in other countries in the region.
“We have to take advantage and talk about this peace, no one wants to go to countries that are in conflicts, everyone wants to go to a country that is peaceful so we are saying our unique selling point which we put on our number one is the peace and tranquillity that prevails in this country.
“The other thing that should attract people is the safety and security; yes a country can be peaceful and although they normally go hand to hand it does not necessarily mean that if a country is peaceful it has safety and security,” he said.
Dr Kaseke added that when the WEF is trying to determine how peaceful a country is, they normally look at the potential or degree of terrorism in that country.
He said when the degree of terrorism in a country is high then it is rated lowly and that when there is the absence of terrorism it is then highly ranked.
The ZTA boss said “when they (WEF) look at peace and security they mostly look at gun crimes, how many gun crimes are committed in that country per month and if you spend a month without reporting a gun crime against tourists then you are ranked very highly.
“The major selling point for our country is its people and the culture, our people have done us proud, yes the attitudes of our people due to economic hardships are not good but we are still proud of them in terms of how they have been helping us in terms helping avoid conflicts with our tourists.
“We have very limited incidents where we compare with other regional countries where tourists have been attacked by citizens of that country. Zimbabweans have been going under serious hardships since 2000 but they never behaved like one country that I know whose citizens resolved to turn on foreigners and looted their shops.
Although he didn’t mention names, Dr Kaseke could have been referring to South Africa whose citizens turned against foreigners attacking them in xenophobia related violence.
He said he is proud of Zimbabweans for their level professionalism and conduct towards foreigners and tourists.–