ZIMBABWE tourism sector is working tirelessly to bring back the old glory that was lost at the turn of the millennium following a decade-and-half of negatively media hype on the Brand Zimbabwe. The country’s peak tourist arrival was recorded in 1999.
Despite boasting the biggest private wildlife reserve in the world – Save Valley Conservancy, being a signatory to the peace park project and possessing one of the Seven Wonders of the World – Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe continued to suffer from the bad publicity since the country was regarded as a unsafe tourist destination.
Tourism contributes immensely to the country’s economy. In 2015, the sector contributed 11 percent to the Gross Domestic Product. Tourism has proved to be one of the fast growing sectors in Zimbabwe following the adoption of non-consumptive tourism which wildlife, cultural and religious tourism take lead.
To further promote the Brand Zimbabwe, the country is participating at the world’s leading travel and tourism trade shows in Germany this week.
Dubbed International Travel Bourse (ITB), the trade show is being held at the Messe in Berlin, Germany. The five-day expo which began on March 8 and ends on March 12 attracted over 185 countries.
Zimbabwe’s delegation is headed by the Minister of Tourism and Hospitality Industry, Dr Walter Mzembi and comprises of officials from Zimbabwe Tourism Authority. ITB works to Dr Mzembi’s advantage since his presence reinforces his bid for the post of United Nations World Tourism Organisation Secretary General.
Commenting on Zimbabwe’s participation at this Global tourism exposition, Zimbabwe Tourism Authority’s head of corporate affairs, Mr Sugar Chagonda, said a lot of sacrifices were made for Zimbabwe to exhibit in Germany.Said Mr Chagonda: “We are very much excited to be participating at this year’s edition of ITB Berlin. We defied all odds and prevailed over the obtaining challenges to maintain our presence in the European Market.”“Zimbabwetravel.info, African Bush Camps, African Sun Hotels,Shearwater Victoria Falls, Sikiliza Adventures, The Amalinda Collection, Wilderness Safaris, Zambezi Cruise Safaris and Zimbabwe International Trade Fair are some of the private companies that are promoting Brand Zimbabwe in Berlin,” said Mr Chagonda.
The ZTA boss added that Zimbabwe’s participation at the ITB Berlin and other related International travel fairs is premised on the need for continuous investment in aggressive marketing in order for the tourism sector to achieve the projected average annual growth rate of 3.8 percent by 2020, which translates to five million tourist arrivals in the country. Germany contributes 18 percent of European arrivals into Zimbabwe and ranks third after the United States of America and UK, contributing 26 355 arrivals recorded in year 2015, a drop from the 76 000 arrivals attained in 1999, which was Zimbabwe’s tourism peak, hence the need for aggressive marketing to regain the lost market share.
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