BY MTHANDAZO NYONI
National Railways of Zimbabwe (NRZ) has partnered the Zimbabwe Tourism Authority (ZTA) to market its safari steam trains and museum during this year’s Sanganai/Hlanganani World Tourism Expo.
The fair, kicking off on Thursday next week at the Zimbabwe International Exhibition Centre in Bulawayo, will be graced by over 170 international buyers.
As part of the agreement, a high-profile reception for buyers and the media will be held at the NRZ Museum at Raylton Club on September 12.
Guests will be taken to the museum from Bulawayo Station by a steam train, NRZ spokesperson Nyasha Maravanyika said in a statement yesterday.
NRZ, through its rail leisure unit, runs steam excursions which promote domestic and international tourism, and also operates a museum chronicling the history of railways in the country
since the arrival of the first train in Bulawayo in 1897.
“While safari steam trains and the museum are popular tourist attractions, they have mainly been patronised by locals, with schoolchildren making the bulk of visitors to the museum,”
He said the partnership with ZTA would open NRZ tourism products to new international markets, particularly from Asia, as buyers and international journalists from that continent would
be privileged to enjoy first-hand experience riding on a steam train as well as view displays at the museum.
“The presence of international buyers and journalists would help raise NRZ safari steam trains’ international profile,” he said.
The NRZ Museum was opened in 1972 to commemorate the 75th anniversary of the arrival of the first train in Bulawayo. It houses historic milestones in the development of railway lines
in Africa and Zimbabwe.
The museum has an impressive collection of steam and diesel locomotives, construction and recovery equipment, Rhodes’ coach as well as a collection of priceless photos.
Rail Leisure Steam Safaris operates vintage steam locomotives, which are popular with steam enthusiasts.
The expo will also showcase premier class coaches and joy rides.
The NRZ has, in the past, worked with United Kingdom-based Geoff Cook Safaris and Farrail Safaris of Germany in organising annual tours into Zimbabwe for steam train enthusiasts.