Liberty Dube Business Correspondent
FOLLOWING the highly successful Harare International Carnival held from September 1-10, tourism players in Manicaland have now shifted their focus to the forthcoming Sanganai/Hlanganani World Travel Expo slated for the Zimbabwe International Exhibition Centre in Bulawayo on Monday.
Local tourism players believe that the expo will provide a platform for the majestic Eastern Highlands to be known regionally and internationally. Eastern Highlands Experience vice-chairman Mr William Chatigu said the expo was an ideal platform for local tourism players to market services and products from the Eastern Highlands to the world.
“We want to market the Eastern Highlands and place it back on the regional and international tourism map. This is a perfect opportunity for us to create awareness and let the world know that Eastern Highlands has a special and exciting package that can compete with any tourist destination in the world.
“It is also an opportunity for us to remind people that the Eastern Highlands still exists and now offers better and improved packages such as improved road networks,” said Mr Chatigu, who is also the Kwayedza Lodge proprietor.
He confirmed his attendance at the expo. Veteran hotelier Mr Willard Madhombiro of Golden Peacock Villa Hotel said: “This is a moment we have been waiting for.
“The platform is always important to us as Eastern Highlands. We will take the opportunity to showcase our attractive tour packages which include the scenic view of Vumba forests, waterfalls, botanical gardens and Nyanga Mountain.
“I believe we have what it takes to satisfy the tourism market such as luxurious internationally branded hotels in Mutare and beautiful venues with therapeutic flora and fauna.
“For the Eastern Highlands, it is our time to market our products. We need to be there in our numbers.” White Horse Inn co-director Mr Frank Marembo said the expo was an opportunity for local tourism players to learn and build synergies with regional and international tourism players.
“Eastern Highlands is a wonderful tourism destination which if well marketed can match international standards. “However, we have a lot to learn from international players through platforms like these (Sanganai/Hlanganani). This is the time to exchange ideas and find ways on how we can extensively market excellent services and products that we offer,” said Mr Marembo, who has turned the hotel, situated in the scenic Vumba, into a formidable tourism destination.
Leading tertiary college, Mutare Polytechnic, is expected to be part of the expo. The college has in previous editions of the expo won several accolades such as best training Institution category winner, best tertiary institution stand, while its students came third in the Zimbabwe Chefs Association competition in the live cooking category.
The fair will be preceded by a familiarisation tour of Antelope Park in Gweru on September 25. The Zimbabwe Tourism Authority revealed in a statement that preparations to host the 10th edition of the expo were at an advanced stage with all designated exhibition space now fully booked.
“We have on record 340 exhibitors, 224 international buyers and 24 international media that have confirmed their participation. The edition will see the introduction of speed dating sessions earmarked at enhancing interaction between international buyers and exhibitors.
A Health Expo will run concurrently with the tourism fair. “The purpose of this expo is to provide a platform to increase health awareness to the public attending Sanganai/Hlanganani.
“The services provided at the health expo will include provision of vital checks, dentistry, optometry and cervical cancer screening. All these services will be for free during the exhibition days.”
Events such as the awards ceremony meant to honour exhibitors who have participated at Sanganai over the past 10 years as well as buyers cocktails and familiarisation tours are scheduled to take place.
The Eastern Highlands is home to scenic sites such as Chimanimani Mountains, Nyanga Mountain and National Park, Bvumba Botanical Gardens and Bvumba Mountains, as well as Mtarazi Falls and Bridal Veil Falls in Honde Valley and Chimanimani respectively