By Freeman Razemba
Zimbabwe is set to participate at Africa’s largest travel trade show, Travel Indaba, which starts in Durban, South Africa, tomorrow and ends on Thursday.
The conference is aimed at promoting the Southern African region to the world by showcasing a wide variety of top drawer tourism products and attracting international buyers and media from across the globe.
The indaba includes a business and policy forum for African tourism ministers each year.
Zimbabwe Tourism Authority head of corporate affairs and public relations Mr Godfrey Koti said the country would have a record 32 tourism operators at its stand.
“This year the country will participate with a record 32 tourism operators on its national stand.
“The exceptional response is a true reflection that Zimbabwe is open and ready for business,” he said in a statement.
“Various Zimbabwean tourism operators have expressed optimism that travel to Zimbabwe will increase as the Government re-engages global markets who have been shunning Zimbabwe for a long time.
“A number of Zimbabwean tour operators have also secured their own exhibition stands at indaba, which will enhance Zimbabwe’s participation,” he said.
He said the Zimbabwean delegation would be led by Tourism and Hospitality Industry Minister Prisca Mupfumira.
ZTA chief executive Dr Karikoga Kaseke said he was delighted by the enthusiasm shown by local tour operators.
“We have over the years lost substantial amounts of business to the South African market. We must take remedial action without further delay, we need to act swiftly. We are going to South Africa to regain the market share we lost,” said Dr Kaseke.
“The level of participation by tourism players from Zimbabwe is very encouraging and I know Zimbabwe is going to make a huge impact at the Travel Indaba this year. I am very happy that even smaller operators are now also seeing that marketing their products at these big travel shows can assist their businesses to grow,” he said.
South Africa is the largest tourist source market for Zimbabwe, contributing 30 percent of total arrivals in 2017. South African tourist arrivals reached 1,368 million in 2010 from 912 244 in 2009, but declined to 716 234 in 2017.
Zimbabwe will hold its “first visit Zimbabwe” roadshow on the sidelines of the main travel conference.
Dr Kaseke said there was need to work at increasing arrivals from South Africa.
“The decline in arrivals from South Africa, which is the country’s major market, is of great concern and calls for urgent attention.
“This has resulted in the need for a ‘Visit Zimbabwe’ campaign in South Africa,” he said.