Stephen Ephraem: Post Correspondent
THE year 2016 was full of activity as far as tourism in Zimbabwe is concerned. The Government of Zimbabwe managed to support this sector, which is growing stronger since the time it headed for a nose-dive during the past decade.A lot of negative media hype affected the sector’s growth since international tourists were being discouraged from visiting the country as the media was painting Zimbabwe as unsafe to visit.
The following are some of the activities that headlined tourism circles in 2016. Minister Mzembi’sUNWTO bid
African Union as its official United Nation World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO) candidate for the Secretary General’s post endorsed tourism and Hospitality Industry minister Dr Walter Mzembi. Dr Mzembi is tipped to replace Taleb Rifai of Jordan who is leaving the post in May 2017.
The Governments of Zimbabwe and that of Zambia signed a Memorandum of Understanding to revive Kavango-Zambezi Trans-Frontier Conservation Area (KAZA). It had been suspended in 2015. The KAZA Uni-Visa will allow entry into the two countries for 30 days at a cost of $50. KAZA is to promote travel between the two countries for tourism and business.
For the first time in history, Zimbabwe introduced a gesture that aims at promoting culture. The first week of the month of May, each year has been declared as Culture Week. Setting aside the week for commemorating culture is so vital in this wake of cultural tourism, which has seen the country having more than 30 local, regional and international cultural festivals.
During the month of September, Zimbabwe presented a bid to have its ivory sold at the Convention of Parties 17 (COP 17) of the Convention on International Trade of Endangered Species (CITES). During COP 10 in 1997, the Zimbabwean elephant had been classified asendangered with a possibility to extinction if trade in elephant products was not restricted. Should ivory trade be permitted, it means that holiday-makers on sport hunting (consumptive) tourism would be allowed to operate without restrictions.The issue of consumptive tourism shall remain a headache for the country since other African countries are at the forefront of shooting down its bid to have trade in ivory.
Festivals are playing a pivotal role in promoting movement of people for holidaymaking. Harare International Festival of the Arts (HIFA) did not hold the traditional week-long programme but concentrated much on talents identification and administration.
The festival that showed great improvement was The Great Limpopo Cultural Trade Fair held in July in Chiredzi.
The event attracted more than 3000 attendants from Zimbabwe, Mozambique and South Africa. It was the first time the gala engaged The Manica Post and Zimbabwe Broadcasting Corporation as the official print and electronic media partners respectively.
In September, Harare International Carnival had its initial program postponed for the second time in two years owing to corporate sponsors’ apathy. To avoid such scenarios in future, Zimbabwe Tourism Authority, which spearheads the international carnival, has to find at least one official sponsor.
Manicaland cultural tourism galas in the name of Ndau Festival of the Arts held in Chikore and MaChangana Festival held in Mahenye lived to their boiling. The two celebrations held in September managed to give tourists an undiluted taste of Ndau and Tsonga/Changani culture respectively.
One the country’s leading hotel chain, Rainbow Tourism Group closed its interest in the southern border town, Beitbridge Rainbow Hotel beginning of June. Directorsof the group revealed that the closure was motivated by the $2 million loss the hotel had made in the two years in had been operational.
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