Zimbabwe is heralding 2019 as its “blockbuster year” as the country gets ready to unveil a series of ground-breaking attractions.
BY WISDOM MDZUNGAIRI IN BERLIN, GERMANY
This followed enquiries by visitors intending to do “self-drives” in the aftermath of the easing in police road blocks.
Rainbow Tourism Group chief executive officer, Tendai Madziwanyika Zimbabwe was back in business and all major destinations in the country can look forward to welcoming even more visitors this year.
“The enquiries we’re getting for self-drives shows the tourism industry can start reaping the benefits of the reduction of roadblocks across the country,” he said.
Madziwanyika said in the past, visitors made Zimbabwe an “after thought” due to the unfriendly police activities.
“With self-drives, it means one just drops at the airport and hires a car of their choice. Self-drives show Zimbabwe is back on its feet. Self-drives range from 14 to 21 days. We hope that this will be kept as such ,as the benefits are massive for the tourism industry,he said.
Madziwanyika said in the past, Zimbabwe was an add-on after tourists visited South Africa, Namibia or Zambia but now with the introduction of self-drives, the country would enjoy longer booking periods.
He said that they had received enquiries from tour operators from as far as Hungary and elsewhere, who had created a package to self-drive the country’s major tourist attractions.
“It is important that we manage the country’s image going forward and come up with investor-friendly policies that promote growth. We also hope that Zimbabwe tourism authority negotiates for a bigger space next year as it promises to be bigger,” Madziwanyika said.
Another operator James Haigh said an investor-friendly atmosphere was key to tourism growth as tourists’ perception was important to visitors.
“Zimbabwe’s international image has not been good for tourism, and now that the new dispensation is keen to grow business, this must show on how they embrace the visitors.”
Southern Africa Touring Services chief executive Martin Mashingaidze said goodwill towards Zimbabwe was fantastic, “but all state entities must conform to how business is done. The business as usual approach hurts tourism in a big way and there is need for all government officials to understand the policy shift and direction.”
Jibha Africa Safaris managing director, Patrick Manyika said Zimbabwe’s participation at the premier tourism exposition has boosted chances of the sector recovering at the shortest possible period.
“Our pricing structure needs to be at par with what is prevailing in other countries in the region. Zimbabwe, as a destination, was sort of expensive and, therefore,taken as an extension destination, especially sold by Zambia and South Africa among other others.
“Now with the removal of the roadblocks, (this) has opened the whole country to domestic and international tourism due to free movement. It improves accessibility to other local destinations such as Kariba, Eastern Highlands and Gonarezhou. It is a huge plus.”