Travelling & Touring: Travelling and touring in retrospect

File pic: Aircraft

COMPLIMENTS of the New Season! The much touted festive season has come and gone and what is left are legendary “hangovers” with school fees and other related expenses lurking in every space available.

Brisk business was reported in most tourist-related destinations as hives of activity were prevalent at various lodges and hotels across Zimbabwe which is dubbed a world of wonders.

There is no harm in individuals or families spoiling themselves and the festive season is not an exception. It is also written in the Bible that there is also time for pastime activities.

Yours Truly is not going to delve much into nitty-gritties on how he spent the Christmas holiday, but that is better left for another day as we seek to make an analysis of the past year in proverbial retrospect fashion.

Zimbabwe Tourism Authority (ZTA), the country’s tourism promotion body last year appointed Winnie Muchanyuka as its substantive chief executive officer and she immediately pledged to surpass the USD$5 billion revenue target.

This particular target is in line with the government’s National Tourism Recovery and Growth Strategy blueprint which seeks to turn around the industry’s fortunes.

Muchanyuka who has vast experience within the tourism and aviation industry, is also immediate past president of Tourism Business Council of Zimbabwe.

 She had stints at Air Zimbabwe and Swiss Air. Muchanyuka was also  country manager for South African Airways.

The new ZTA boss also appealed to tourism and hospitality players to work hand in hand with Government in bidding for Meetings Incentives Conferences Exhibitions Tourism Events (MICE).

Such activities have contributed immensely to tourism recovery which is considered third largest sector after mining and agriculture.

Another key appointment to ZTA was of media personality, Beatrice Tonhodzayi who now sits on the tourism promotion board of directors. Her media experience and expertise is expected to prove handy and ensure that the country is one of the world’s premier tourist destinations and in the process attract positive international coverage.

Players within the tourism industry have in the past year been taking stock of their performances post Covid-19 pandemic which nearly brought the sector to its proverbial knees.

It was reported that industry players had an average loss of US$690 million according to National Tourism Satellite Account which was done in conjunction with United Nations World Tourism Organisations.

This particular exercise was a government initiative as part of Zimbabwe Destination Development Programme with some technical assistance from International Finance Corporation.

Yesteryear tidings would not be complete without mentioning accolades within the tourism and hospitality fraternity.

Leading hotel group, Africa Albida Tourism last year scooped five awards at a prestigious travelling and touring event held in Harare.

The organisation operates Victoria Falls Safari Lodge, Victoria Falls Safari Club, Victoria Falls Safari Suites, Lokuthula Lodges and The Boma-Dinner and Safari Show.

The awards ceremony was hosted by Association of Zimbabwe Travel Agents (AZTA) and was attended by the who’s who in the local tourism industry.

The group’s flagship, Victoria Falls Safari Lodge scooped Best Resort Lodge for a record 24 times while its premium property, Victoria Falls Safari Club was awarded the Best Boutique Hotel for the seventh time. The Best Self Category went to Lokuthula Lodges for a record eight times with Dave Glynn, the executive chairman won a special recognition for his establishment of Africa’s Eden Tourism Association.

This is a regional tourism organisation whose purpose is to market Zimbabwe, Botswana, Namibia and Zambia as these countries are home to a variety of wild animals. The grouping has more than 400 members drawn from the above-mentioned countries.

Sales executive, Wendy Bourne got the Most Outstanding Voluntary Service to Travel Agents award for the tenth time due to her contribution to this particular sector.

Some of AZTA award recipients included Meikles Hotel (Best City Hotel), Palm River Lodge(Best Bed and Breakfast), Banff Lodge (Best Safari Camp-tented), Antelope Park (Best Safari Camp-non-tented), Amalinda Lodge (Best Mobile SafarOperator), Zambezi Expeditions (Best Regional Airline) while Emirates grabbed the Best International Airline gong.

It is also worth to mention that three quarters of Victoria Falls based hotels and lodges have in the past year been ranked among the best top 10 places to visit against 758 places where one is to stay.

More on that in the coming episodes.

Till we meet again in the next column.

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