via Promote domestic tourism – DailyNews Live 7 July 2014 by Maxwell Sibanda
HARARE – While Zimbabwe was this year awarded with the honour of being Europe’s best touristic destination by the European Council on Tourism and Trade (ECTT), the immediate focus for ministry of Tourism and Zimbabwe Tourism Authority (ZTA) should be to promote domestic and regional tourism.
While the Tourism ministry and ZTA officials have done us proud through their concerted efforts in building the Zimbabwe brand which had over the years been badly damaged by negative media reports, they should take President Robert Mugabe and Vice President Joice Mujuru’s calls to make Zimbabwean touristic destinations known to locals.
During his ECTT awards acceptance speech, Mugabe called on Walter Mzembi, the minister responsible for tourism to urgently embark on a national programme that could be dubbed ‘‘Know Your Zimbabwe, Know Yourself’’ targeting to educate locals about the various cultural heritages they have.
Mugabe said while Mzembi had travelled the whole world were he has been promoting the country’s tourism, it was now time for him to turn to introducing our seven wonders to Zimbabweans.
Mujuru, while congratulating Mzembi and his tourism chief executive Karikoga Kaseke for the wonderful work they have done thus far, implored them to do more domestically.
She urged the tourism sector to exploit the ECTT awards by introducing the accolades on their company letter heads and internal communication.
Against the aforementioned, Mzembi and Kaseke should immediately respond to Mugabe’s call and embark on a national offensive.
That Mugabe and Mujuru gave the blessings, I do not see why Mzembi and Kaseke should not prioritise the initiative.
I also do not see any problems in such a programme receiving support from government and indeed the Treasury as two of the most powerful politicians in government have already given the greenlight.
It is a call that should not be taken lightly.
While we have several picturesque, scenic and beautiful resorts, not much has been done to promote them locally.
Apart from school trips to Kariba and Victoria Falls among other popular destinations, Zimbabweans rarely visit our resorts for holidaying.
It is important that Zimbabweans start valuing their resort areas, destinations which others from the rest of the world spend a fortune to come and see.
The ZTA should collaborate with local resorts and put together comprehensive holiday packages for locals that are affordable.
Together with the resorts, ZTA should create promotional synergies and a media blitz that I am sure would increase locals’ interest in our resorts.
Apart from domestic tourism, there is also need to promote the Zimbabwean brand throughout Africa.
There are wealthy people in Africa who would visit Zimbabwe’s touristic destinations if they are properly marketed.
The methodology that the tourism officials applied to get Europeans to visit Zimbabwe is the same that can be used to bring Africans here.
And I was impressed to see Zimbabwean adverts on SuperSport television flighted in between World Cup soccer matches which were promoting our destinations.
This is the way to go and I am sure the adverts have been watched by millions of people throughout Africa.
When all is said and done, it is my hope that Mzembi and Kaseke will listen to Mugabe and Mujuru’s wise words, and that sooner or later we would be witnessing a roll out of promotions focusing on domestic tourism.
Mzembi and Kaseke have the energy to work and produce wonders.
We hope the two gentlemen will take the bull by its horns and awaken locals’ love for their own.