By Daniel Chigundu
SANGANAI/Hlanganani World Tourism Expo which was scheduled to take place from 8-10 June has been rescheduled to 27 September to 1st of October this year, following a funding commitment from treasury, an official has said.
A few weeks ago, Zimbabwe Tourism Authority (ZTA) had announced that the tourism fair will not be taking place this year owing to huge debts that the organisers owed various service providers in Bulawayo for service rendered during the previous edition.
Last year treasury promised to avail about US$500 000 for the hosting of Sanganai/Hlanganani but instead only disbursed about US$250 000 and the development is said to have been so for the past years.
Addressing the media, ZTA chief executive Dr. Karikoga Kaseke revealed that government had finally settled the outstanding debt and has released more funds for the preparation of the fair.
“ZTA would like to inform its esteemed tourism partners, stakeholders and the nation at large, that Sanganai/Hlanganani World Tourism Expo 2017 preparations have resumed. This is despite our previously announced possibility of cancelling the event due to lack of funding.
“The new development has been prompted by the commitment made by the government to fund the expo and also to pay all the debts that were incurred during the previous edition of Sanganai/Hlanganani Expo.
The ZTA boss revealed that in a meeting held between his organisation and treasury on the 11th of April, “Ministry did not only commit to fund Sanganai/Hlanganani 2017 but they have already disbursed funds for us to pay all the service providers who supplied goods and services to Sanganai/Hlanganani last year but were still owed by the ZTA.
“The Ministry of Finance has also provided us with enough funds to start preparations for Sanganai/Hlanganani this year. The Authority is excited about this development and has agreed to push the dates forward to enable proper planning and to re-activate a robust international buyer recruitment and selection process.
“The fair will now be held from 27 September to 1st October in Bulawayo at the Zimbabwe International Trade Fair,” he said.
Dr. Kaseke has on various occasions complained about the little resources that are being given to the tourism sector from the country’s national budget, arguing that it is not enough to market the country’s vast tourism facilities.
Tourism Destination marketing requires travelling around the world and attending other tourism fairs that take place around the world.
Owing to lack of funds Zimbabwe is failing to maintain its tourism office in China, at a time when China is leading in outbound tourists.
Hatfield legislator Tapiwa Mashakada is on record telling Parliament that treasury needs to commit more funds to the tourism sector as it is one of the low hanging fruits that can bring quick benefits to the country.
Meanwhile, Dr Kaseke has said that his organisation has put in place strict selection mechanism for buyers that will participate at the rescheduled Sanganai/Hlanganani Expo which will also be celebrating its 10th anniversary.
“We have put in place a well-considered and stringent selection benchmark for the buyer participation that ensures the premier show attracts only high quality profile international buyers.
“These are buyers who are genuinely interested in doing business with tourism brands from Zimbabwe and Southern Africa in general. The buyers should be eager to package Zimbabwe and the region as a tourism destination,” Dr Kaseke said.
By Daniel Chigundu