By Daniel Chigundu
ZIMBABWE Tourism Authority (ZTA) chief executive Dr Karikoga Kaseke says his organisation will be embarking on a tourism marketing campaign targeting Russia, South Africa and China.
The country has been failing to do well in various outbound tourist markets owing to lack of funds for marketing and branding.
Sore dire is the situation that the country is absent in such lucrative markets as China which is expected to contribute about 600 million outbound tourists in 2020.
Owing to lack of funds, Zimbabwe was also having challenges in trying to attend some international tourism marketing platforms; however, the situation is expected to change as the country’s treasury has since pledged unparalleled support going forward.
According to Dr Kaseke, the support from government will see ZTA embarking on a Visit Zimbabwe campaign aimed at marketing the country’s destinations in three important source markets.
“Our Visit Zimbabwe campaign which we hope will be financed by government is targeting South Africa where we want to turnaround the arrivals from South Africa, from a mere 700 000 to over 2 million so that we are on par with what they are receiving and what we are receiving, but the idea is to surpass them so that we receive more than they receive from us that is basically the aim.
“So if currently South Africa is receiving 2.5 million and we are receiving 700 000 we have a long way and this Visit Zimbabwe campaign in South Africa tends to increase visitors from that country. This is not the only program that we are going to rely on; we are going to have Visit Zimbabwe campaign in South Africa, we are going to have it in China and we are also doing the campaign in Russia.
“These are the three markets we have targeted and I think when Minister Chinamasa was talking that he was going to support marketing programs these are some of the programs that he was talking about,” he said.
South Africa has been Zimbabwe’s biggest source market of outbound tourists to the extent that in 2006, it was receiving about 1.6 million arrivals.
However tables shifted along the way and Zimbabwe now receives a mere 600 000, while 2.5 million Zimbabweans are now visiting South Africa per year.
Dr Kaseke said if the country had maintained the 2006 figures, Zimbabwe would have been receiving around three million visitors from South Africa per year.
The ZTA boss added that “so what we are saying is what we receive from any market should not be less than the number of our people going there, we are talking about input and output analysis our output which is our people going to South Africa is 2.5 million and our input which are people coming from South Africa currently stands at 700 000 it shows that obviously, we are eroding our gains from South Africa,” he said.
The country’s tourism board is also expecting that its strategy to target Russia will produce positive results as the market has been doing well in such countries as Egypt and Kenya.
ZTA said they believe that Russian market will not take them a lot of effort to tap into as they want visitors from that country to combine their visits to Africa with Zimbabwe.
Russian buyers who attended the 10th edition of Sanganai/Hlanganani are reported to have fallen in love with the country’s products and are going to package Zimbabwe beginning next year.
The tourism sector is also keen to ride on the country’s Look East Policy to tap into the huge Chinese market which has been doing well for neighbouring countries as South Africa and Zambia.
Although Zimbabwe and China enjoy cordial relations and regard each other as all-weather-friends, the Southern African country has performed badly when it comes to attracting Chinese visitors compared to its neighbours.
South Africa receives over 100 000, Zambia 60 000 Chinese tourists per year, while Zimbabwe only manages about a measly 6 000 and is ranked number 11 in Sadc when it comes to Chinese tourist arrivals.
According to Dr Kaseke, “we are not doing much as marketing board responsible for marketing tourism in that market. China is rated as the highest spender by UNWTO, and anyone serious about tourism will look at those trends and be serious about China,” he said.