Buyers for the eighth edition of the Sanganai /Hlanganani Expo are allegedly being denied access to national parks as the Zimbabwe Parks and Wildlife Management Authority expects them to pay, the Zimbabwe Tourism Authority (ZTA) has said.
BY TATIRA ZWINOIRA
Speaking at a media briefing on Wednesday, ZTA chief executive officer Karikoga Kaseke said buyers were finding it difficult to inspect national parks facilities because of the impasse.
“A lot of buyers are not accessing National Parks estates for reasons that are best known to the National Parks. We have tried to engage them but our efforts have been fruitless,” Kaseke said.
“Parks and Wildlife Management Authority expects buyers to pay for inspecting their site which is very interesting and one would want to wonder what the thinking of Parks is on that decision.”
He said such a problem had not been encountered in the past.
At this year’s edition of Sanganai/ Hlanganani there were a total of 110 buyers, 62 from Africa and the Middle East, 31 from Europe, and 17 from China, Asia and the Pacific. A buyer is an outbound tour operator who comes from a foreign market to inspect tourist attractions on offer and package that which they take back to their market for tourists to buy. The ZTA was targeting those markets to increase tourism in the country.
“Parks are exhibiting here and while they exhibit buyers will come to see what they are saying through talking to them and would want to do a site inspection. When they do a site inspection as a buyer they do not have to pay because when they do this site inspection they will then package it to their markets for tourists to come,” Kaseke said.
“Now, National Parks because of their wisdom or rather lack of are saying buyers should pay, why should a buyer pay to inspect your site which you want them to package and sell to tourists?
“One wonders about our level of commitment as a nation to the turnaround or fortunes of the tourism sector and the economy at large. So I am not having kind words for Parks and I do not think that I have been kind, this is not good and we must also learn what we mean when someone is called a buyer.”
Kaseke said buyers were not tourists as they do site inspections to package a product to their market and that all other facilities were open to buyers for site inspections with no charge being levied against them.
The expo was moved from its traditional October date as buyers wanted to have more time to package products for their markets for tourists to prepare for the following year.
The total space being taken up by this year‘s edition of Sanganai is 4 500 sqm. The edition was only focusing on buyers to encourage sales of packaged products to foreign markets.
NewsDay contacted the Parks and Wildlife Management Authority for a comment but were told they were unaware of the statement released by the ZTA chief on Wednesday.