By Daniel Chigundu
ZIMBABWE Tourism Authority (ZTA) chief executive Dr Karikoga Kaseke says Zimbabwe is participating at the 2018 edition of the World Travel Market (WTM) with a view to increasing tourist arrival in the country.
Tourism is one of the country’s low hanging fruits with quick wins together with agriculture, manufacturing and mining in terms of the new dispensation’s economic revival strategy.
Ministry of Environment, Tourism and Hospitality Industry and ZTA have employed various marketing strategies with a view to luring more tourists and one of the strategies includes participating at international tourism events across the world such as the WTM which is running from 5-7th of November at the Excel in London.
Commenting on Zimbabwe’s participation at the WTM, Dr Kaseke said the fair is critical for the country’s tourism growth prospects.
“Tourism is a key growth engine in the national economy and as such, potential has been identified in Europe which is our traditional source market and very key. Europe’s tourist arrivals in the first half of 2018 as compared to the same period in 2017 increased by 29% to 101 101 from 78 225.
“The increase is indicative of the immense potential that Europe has. WTM is therefore critical for us as not only Europe, but the global tourism industry will be under roof,” he said.
There are 30 tourism players from the country who are participating at the fair which is a sharp increase from 9 who took part last year and Dr Kaseke said it was a positive sign from the industry.
Some of the local players taking part include Love For Africa, Mbano Manor Hotel, Rainbow Tourism Group and Avis Rent A Car among many others.
Speaking at the same occasion, Shelley Cox from Great Plains Conservation said “the UK is an important market for us hence the industry players are excited to participate at this show given the new winds of change in the country and the re-engagement drive that Zimbabwe is on.
“Indeed we anticipate massive deals to be clinched during the show which will, in turn, boost our business,” she said.
Meanwhile, Dr Kaseke has revealed that there is increased interest in Zimbabwe tourism by some of the world’s leading media houses such as BBC, Discovery Channel and Aljazeera
“For close to two decades the global media was very hostile towards Zimbabwe and churned out very negative publicity. This saw the tourism industry witnessed a tremendous dip in arrivals.
“We are happy that we have interviews and engagements lined up with the BBC, Discovery Channel and Aljazeera to mention but a few which reveals an attitude change. We hope to leverage on this publicity to speak the Zimbabwean story,” he said.
Engagement with various global media houses is in line with the ZTA’s quest of enhancing the image and repositioning of Destination Zimbabwe in major tourist source markets.
WTM is the second largest travel show in the world after Germany’s International Travel Bourse (ITB). It attracts 51 000 global travel trade hotel professionals such as tour operators, airlines, and media from across the world.