By Daniel Chigundu
ZIMBABWE International Trade Fair (ZITF) Company says it is in the process of developing a convention centre to take advantage of the many opportunities that are in the meetings industry.
The country is said to have a lot of untapped opportunities in the meetings industry and has failed to take advantage of them owing to lack of ideal infrastructure.
Addressing delegates at the Ease of Doing Business Workshop, ZITF general manager Nomathemba Ndlovu said feasibility studies have already been done and they are now looking for funding for the project.
“We are particularly passionate about this project because our city, the city of Bulawayo has been known for many years around the issues of deindustrialization and when the discourse around deindustrialization takes place, people are looking at maybe reviving those old industries making them profitable again.
“Our view as ZITF Company is that we obviously need to create new industries and there is a whole wave of potential in the meetings industry certainly in our interaction with Mr Dirk Elzinga we have seen a great potential there is.
“And for us we believe we got the basic infrastructure, the research showed that a lot of meetings are linked to an exhibition of some sort and because ours is the only purpose built facility for exhibition I believe that certainly the infrastructure is already there.
“…so yes the ZITF company is developing a conventions centre we have some feasibility studies that have been done and Mr. Elzinga has been very much involved in that , we are at the stage of looking for funding,” she said.
The ZITF boss added that there was also need for a special taskforce to coordinate the development of convention centres in the country so that players can work together and prevent duplication of work.
“I like his view about the taskforce because sometimes it seems as if we are operating in isolation, organisations are doing their meetings and we are doing our own and all these developments, the feasibility studies that we are doing, they are not known beyond our cities, beyond our country and beyond our companies.
“Perhaps the taskforce will kind of bring everything together, and have that coordination so that then as a country we bid for meetings and as a country we position ourselves instead of us doing our own thing in isolation,” she said.
Speaking at the same occasion business consultant Dirk Elzinga added that Zimbabwe has great potential for meetings business buoyed by accessibility and the available basic infrastructure.
“I think there is definitely great potential for Zimbabwe in the 20 to 30 years to come so we need to be ready for the 20 to 30 years to come.
“The advantage of Zimbabwe is that it is surrounded by some of the fast growing countries, it has a reputation as a tourist attraction, and there is easy access to Zimbabwe with three international airports.
“Basic infrastructure is also available for example the Rainbow Towers and ZITF in Bulawayo and a number of other hotel ball-rooms,” he said.
In terms of hosting international meetings in 2016, Zimbabwe was number 12 out of the 34 countries that were ranked.
The 34 countries hosted about 362 international meetings last year, South Africa hosted 125, Morocco 37, Kenya 18, Egypt 18 and Zimbabwe only 7 meetings.
The country’s tourism board Zimbabwe Tourism Authority ZTA is in the process of popularising the meetings, incentives, conferences and exhibitions (MICE) business.
MICE business has the potential to bring a lot of business tourists to the country.
According to statistics business tourists spend more compared to leisure tourists.-ENDS