ORGANISERS of the forthcoming Sanganai/Hlanganani World Tourism Expo, Zimbabwe Tourism Authority (ZTA) yesterday said all is set for this year’s edition of the tourism fair to be hosted from September 27 to October 1 in Bulawayo.
BY WINSTONE ANTONIO
The country’s premier travel and tourism showcase that is now officially recognised on the world tourism calendar will feature local and international exhibitors including national tourism boards, embassies, international airlines, leading hotel chains and government ministries.
In an interview with NewsDay, ZTA’s head of corporate affairs, Sugar Chagonda, said all the space has been snapped up with about 340 exhibitors having registered compared to 236 who attended the 2016 edition which is a 44% growth in exhibitor numbers.
“We have on record 340 exhibitors, 224 international buyers and 24 international media that have confirmed their participation at this year’s event. The exhibitors are coming from different sectors of the economy including accommodation, airlines and parastatals among others and they will see the introduction of speed dating sessions earmarked at enhancing interaction between international buyers and exhibitors,” he said.
Chagonda said there is a significant growth in first-time participants from 54 companies that were first timers last year to 85 exhibitors, who will be participating for the first time at the this year’s edition.
“All the space has been taken. Sanganai is now fully subscribed. However we continue to wait for a list of those who are interested in case we have some last minute drop outs. A significant growth is also noticeable in space uptake largely attributed to the uptake of an additional hall (Hall 5) that will house Small and Medium Enterprises (SME’s) exhibitors, who have products that complement the sector. Sanganai will utilise hall 3, 4 and 5,” he said.
“This year’s edition has received an increase in international representation. To date 11 countries represented by 22 foreign exhibitors will be exhibiting compared to eight countries who participated in 2016 represented by 30 individual companies.”
Chagonda said the travel and tourism fair will concurrently run with a Health Expo to promote heath awareness among the delegates at the event.
“The Health Expo is among the several initiatives at this year’s edition of the Sanganai/Hlanganani World Tourism Expo. The purpose of this Expo is to increase health awareness to the public with services to be afforded including cervical cancer screening, general health check-ups and dental checks offered for free courtesy of our partners who include Adventist Church, Cellmed and Cimas,” he said.
“We are also going to have several workshops during this premier travel and tourism showcase for our buyers to be given more information to appreciate the products offered by Zimbabwe. We want our exhibitors and operators to know what our markets expect, thus market intelligence. On September 28 will be hosting a workshop to discuss with buyers on what Zimbabwe can offer outside the country.”
Chagonda for the first time foreign exhibitors include the Hospitality Association of Botswana, who will exhibit with 10 operators from Botswana under their banner, Ghana Tourism Board who are coming with their tour operators, South Africa Tourism Board returns after over a decade of absence at the show. They last participated before Sanganai/Hlanganani was rebranded.
“Such interest from the foreign participants is positive as we strive to grow Sanganani/Hlanganani.”
He said they are optimistic that the Expo will steer and activate tourism Business in Bulawayo, as tourism stakeholders from all over the world meet and network while showcasing the widest variety of Africa’s best tourism products and attracting international visitors from across the world.
“Almost everyone is looking forward to a more productive expo building from the successes recorded at the last edition as we have more exhibitors than what we expected. We would like to pay homage to the tourism industry in Bulawayo for responding swiftly and positively to our call and we committed to host the expo for three in city of Kings and Queens,” he said.
Chagonda said the tourism sector last year contributed $470 000 for Sanganai/Hlanganani Expo.