THE curtain on the 10th edition of the Sanganai/Hlanganani World Tourism Expo came down in Bulawayo on Sunday, with organisers satisfied with the number of exhibitors and quality of buyers.
BY NDAMU SANDU
It was the second consecutive year the edition has been held at the Zimbabwe International Trade Fair. Next year’s edition would be hosted at the same venue, with lobbying already in motion for the fair to be a Bulawayo event by virtue of the city having the capacity in venue and accommodation.
Growing in leaps and bounds
Statistics show that this year’s edition had more numbers compared to last year. This year’s edition had 350 registered exhibitors compared to 236 last year. Of the exhibitors, 150 were from Bulawayo signalling an acceptance of the fair by the host city.
There was also a growth in first-time participants to 85 exhibitors from 54 companies last year. There were 224 buyers. The edition saw the introduction of speed networking sessions to increase more interaction between buyers and exhibitors.
Zimbabwe Tourism Authority (ZTA) chief executive Karikoga said the quality of buyers was good this year compared to last year.
Ethiopian International Services managing director Esayas Woldemariam said Bulawayo had made progress in hosting meetings, incentives, conferences and exhibitions which is a good source of tourism and leisure travel.
“This exhibition is becoming well attended by exhibitors,” he said.
Sanganai charms Treasury
The ministry of Tourism and Hospitality Industry has in the past bemoaned the inadequate support from Treasury. Finance and Economic Development minister Patrick Chinamasa, who officially opened the fair, said he was charmed by the tourism industry, equating it to a goose that lays the golden egg by virtue of the sector being one of the country’s foreign currency earners.
He said tourism was a low hanging fruit and has potential to grow more than the 11% contribution to gross domestic product.
Chinamasa promised to avail resources for marketing initiatives.
“If we failed in the past, it is because we did not understand you. We now understand you. We will do everything in our power to meet half way,” he said.
Ministry, ZTA rift widens
The World Tourism Day (WTD) celebrations which were held on September 27 and were part of Sanganai laid bare the differences between policy maker and policy implementer. ZTA was not aware when the marches would start.
It was clear there was not enough awareness campaign with locals seemingly unaware of the event. It was Christ Embassy Church which saved the ministry from the blushes, as its congregants came out in full force to rescue the celebrations.
At the closing press conference, Kaseke said the celebrations were a ministry’s baby and ZTA assisted with the provision of accommodation.
He said a review of last year’s event had recommended that ZTA should run the programme since it is the implementing agent while the Tourism and Hospitality Industry ministry focuses on policy issues. However, the ministry took over proceedings as preparations gathered momentum, Kaseke said.
“There is nothing policy about organising the WTD and he directed that it should be done by ZTA. When the minister (Walter Mzembi) gave that directive, we thought it was enough and we worked very closely with ministry in organising this day but I think somewhere along the line the nuts went off and the ministry said they were now organising WTD,” he said.
No people on public day
By lunch on Sunday, there were very few people in the exhibition halls, a day designated for the public to come and enquire on the available tourism products.
ZTA were not happy with the attendance amid claims the local organising committee could have slept on the wheels. There was, however, a consolation in that Sanganai was not for the consumer market but a business to business exchange.
And the winners are…
The National Museum and Monuments of Zimbabwe walked away with the best overall stand award. They also won the best Tourism Stand award and the best Zimbabwean stand award.
Africa’s leading carrier, Ethiopian Airlines won the best airline stand category with African Sun going to the podium to receive an award for the best hotel stand.