Lloyd Gumbo Senior Reporter
Government has reversed a decision by the Zimbabwe Tourism Authority to cancel the Sanganai/Hlanganani Travel Expo edition for this year, saying resources would be availed to fund the event. ZTA chief executive officer Mr Karikoga Kaseke told our sister paper, The Sunday Mail, that the 35-year-old expo had been shelved because of lack of resources.He said the authority owed service providers about $150 000 from last year’s event, which was the reason he was not interested in hosting the event this year.
But the Ministry of Tourism and Hospitality Industry said in a statement yesterday that while they acknowledged the statement and reasons given by Mr Kaseke, the expo would proceed as planned.
“The Government, through the Ministry of Tourism and Hospitality Industry would like to assure the nation, tourism players both domestic and international, and all stakeholders that the 2017 edition of Sanganai/Hlanganani Travel Expo will be held as planned and that it would do all it can to make sure that all the required resources and logistics are put in place to facilitate the implementation of the national event by the Zimbabwe Tourism Authority,” said the ministry.
“The Government is very aware that Sanganai/Hlanganani Travel Expo has grown to become the second most popular tourism fair on the continent after lndaba Travel Expo in South Africa and that the expo has transformed into the biggest national tourism fair since 1980, becoming the greatest and most effective marketing and promotional tool for the tourism and travel related industry.
“As such, the Travel Expo will be held as previously planned by the Zimbabwe Tourism Authority in the first week of June 2017. By this press statement, the Zimbabwe Tourism Authority, through the chief executive Mr Karikoga Kaseke, is hereby directed to start preparations to host the 2017 edition of Sanganai/Hlanganani Travel Expo.
“The Government, through the Ministry of Tourism and Hospitality Industry, would like to once again reiterate the importance of this national event and that such inconveniences would be avoided in future.”
Efforts to get a comment from Tourism and Hospitality Industry Minister Dr Walter Mzembi or his deputy, Ms Anastancia Ndhlovu were fruitless.
ZTA spokesperson Mr Sugar Chagonda said they had not yet received communication from the ministry on the matter.
“Should that be the case, it is a positive development, which is welcome to us and every tourism player,” he said. “The reason the chief executive officer was talking of cancellation was based on lack of funding. Under normal circumstances, by now we should have been half way through with the preparations.
“In fact, in the interview with The Sunday Mail, the chief executive officer (Mr Kaseke) said we would only be able to host the event if Government provided the resources.
“If indeed Government has committed to provide the resources, we are more than happy to host the event. The major challenge we had is that we owed service providers from the previous expo, so it was going to be difficult to go back to the same service providers and ask them to help.”