By Daniel Chigundu
ZIMBABWE Tourism Authority (ZTA) has called on businesses and associations to bid for more international exhibitions such as the ZITF so that the country can realise many benefits from Meetings, Incentives, Conferences and Exhibitions (MICE).
According to tourism experts, Zimbabwe has various MICE opportunities owing to its facilities dotted around the country and tourist attraction centres but has not realised much of the opportunities.
ZTA, however, created the National Convention Bureau to take charge of MICE business and a lot of work has been undertaken in terms of marketing and bidding.
In an interview on the sidelines of the 59th edition of ZITF, National Convention Bureau executive director Tesa Chikaponya said they are using the premier business expo to reach to stakeholders on MICE business as well as promoting domestic tourism.
“Basically what we are pushing here and what we would call the major highlights is we are basically concentrating on MICE Tourism and Domestic Tourism. MICE Tourism we basically want people to appreciate that MICE Tourism which is also called Business Tourism has got a value to the destination and we should have more of these destinations like the ZITF and many other big exhibitions you find that this brings value to the country.
“People have come from overseas just for the purposes of exhibiting here in Zimbabwe so its money coming into our destination and also they get to know what we are doing and they also get an interest in investing so we are actually encouraging people to bring in more conferences,” she said.
Chikaponya added that they have been going around the exhibition meeting associations that are exhibiting and encouraging them to bring regional and international meetings associated with their sectors or trade.
“For every industry, we are saying you belong to one or two associations please bid for those conferences, let’s work together to bid for the conferences and we bring the conferences into Zimbabwe as it would give us a lot of value and we are also talking to corporates about incentive travel.
“Incentive travel is an integral part of increasing productivity within the different companies, so we are basically then saying make sure that you offer your workers some incentives to travel out if they perform very well or have exceeded their targets and you will find that they will work much more in terms of meeting their targets and getting more coming into the company,” she said.
The National Convention Bureau boss said they are also pushing for domestic tourism adding that most Zimbabweans have not visited attraction centres in the country.
“We know it’s because of disposable income we are here with Civil Service Travel Bureau (CSTB) to say we are promoting domestic travel and they are there to help in terms of packages and to enable people to start paying a little bit towards their holiday in instalments and when they are fully paid and have decided on the dates of their travel they can always travel to different destination of Zimbabwe.
“People are stressed up and if you go for a holiday it helps in winding down and you will come back refreshed and energised and so this is what we are pushing as a tourism authority,” Chikaponya said.
ZTA and CSTB signed a memorandum of understanding that will see the two the organisations promoting domestic tourism in the country.
The partnership comes at a time when Zimbabwe through the Ministry of Tourism and Hospitality Industry is pushing domestic tourism strategy under the 100 days action plan announced by Minister Prisca Mupfumira.
Domestic tourism is said to have a direct bearing on the choice of destinations of international tourists as they normally follow where locals are going and also on the attractiveness of certain centres which are generally regarded as less attractive.
Meanwhile, Chikaponya has revealed that she has been overwhelmed by the positive response they have received from various people and associations.