International musicians and models visiting Zimbabwe have had a feel of the country’s flamboyant culture during marketing promotions by the Zimbabwe Tourism Authority (ZTA) in the last few years.
Some of the music stars have been paid huge amounts at the expense of the taxpayers just to ensure they enjoyed themselves at most of the country’s top tourist hot spots.
We have in mind the Miss Tourism World, Miss Malaika, Kora Music Awards, Brazil soccer team, Sizzla Kalonji who was reportedly allocated a farm in Chegutu, and now Akon and Sean Paul who are currently in the country.
One wonders whether this marketing stunt has brought anything tangible to Zimbabwe because after each event, there have been allegations of corruption involving millions of dollars.
Surprisingly enough, we have continued on the same path. We hope this time around nothing of that sort will happen.
However, we commend ZTA efforts to market the country wide and far by inviting music icons and giving local urban groovers the opportunity to rub shoulders on stage with foreign artistes performing in Zimbabwe.
We believe local music icons also deserve a better deal for them to reach the same standards as those that have been brought into the country.
ZTA should therefore be on the forefront to market the country through music by appointing some local artistes tourism ambassadors.
Each time they go for foreign marketing trips, local artistes should also be part of their marketing efforts. In fact they know Zimbabwe better.
It is useless to appoint foreigners tourism ambassadors, especially people who come into the country just for a week, make their money, and go back without even visiting half of our tourist hot spots.
Although urban groovers’ music has been criticised for lack of thematic seriousness, it is important for them to learn from the international stars alongside whom they perform.
Their music generally resonates with the youths as they sometimes address issues that these youths face, including their livelihood mainly in Zimbabwean ghettos.
This generally reads like the same template from which Akon’s music is drawn, which is why it had found immediate identification with urban youths across the world.
The greatest temptation is for these youngsters to use vulgar and obscene language, while living reckless lives without a sense of responsibility.
If they do the right thing and put their act together then nothing will stop them from rising to the highest peak.
The youths are strategically located to preach to their peers about the dangers of social evils such as sexual immorality, crime and irresponsibility, among other social vices.
The young musicians will also get an opportunity to interact with Akon and Sean Paul and they should use that time to learn from the best how they have managed to evade some of the dangers associated with the fast lane of music.
So, as more such opportunities come, the urban groovers ought to learn more and with the time, they will definitely find themselves on top of their game.
Learning from the best is probably the best strategy for success. While we applaud ZTA and local promoters, we believe, however, that in order to create awareness and motivation among future travellers, tourism communication not only appeal to the visuals, but to all user senses in an inter medial mix.
The idea of hiring foreign artistes should be to enhance the demand and to improve the availability of tourism services through new types of marketing communication involving inter medial solutions and multiple senses.