via We’re not extravagant, says ZTA boss Kaseke | The Herald Isdore Guvamombe October 18, 2013
[Do the maths...]
Last week, Zimbabwe successfully hosted the sixth edition of the Sanganai/Hlanganani Tourism and Travel Fair Africa in Harare which brought together more than 2 000 buyers and exhibitors and generated business deals worth more than US$280 million. Features Editor Isdore Guvamombe (IG) talks to Zimbabwe Tourism Authority chief executive Karikoga Kaseke (KK) about this and other issues.
IG: You have just hosted Sanganai/Hlanganani World Travel and Tourism Africa Fair. What was the level of success?
KK: Very successful, we generated business deals worth more than US$280 million that should see our industry transform in the next two or three years. The business deals clinched there are very impressive.
Like you all should know, Sanganai/Hlanganani is where the world meets Africa. We try to bring the whole world to Zimbabwe to buy Africa’s tourism products. Yes, the bulk of the exhibitors will be from Zimbabwe but we had buyers and exhibitors from Italy, China, Indonesia, Egypt, Botswana, Tanzania, Zambia, South Africa and Zambia among others.
IG: How many buyers and exhibitors came?
KK: We had invited 120 buyers and unfortunately only 79 buyers turned up. We were hosting the buyers, we had paid for their tickets and in some cases their accommodation. We also invited 33 international and local media houses and they all came.
IG: There is an assertion that the ZTA is extravagant with money and why should you pay for buyers to come and do business with us? Hosting the media is understandable, but buyers?
KK: Those people need to be educated. This is old practice. It is old aged. That is what everyone does, the world over. For exhibitors to come, you need buyers, so you target a market you want to nurture or potential business markets and host buyers from there.
In our case we spent US$100 000 hosting the 79 international buyers and generated US$280 million. Is that being extravagant?
This US$280 million is what percentage profit from US$100 000? Do your mathematics! These are deals that will run for the next three years. Please know that Sanganai/Hlanganani is not held for ZTA but for the industry.
ZTA is not extravagant the problem is that our people do not understand what happens in this industry. South Africa holds Indaba every year and they host 500 buyers, which we cannot host. They host over 100 media houses on an annual basis. The Arab Travel Market hosts 1 500 buyers annually, so when people say we are extravagant, I feel pity for them.
As we speak, we are going to the China Travel Mart and they are hosting us, together with 700 other buyers. If there are no buyers who do you exhibit to?
IG: Are you, therefore, saying you are doing the right thing?
KK: Yes. I was not appointed to ZTA without a brief. As long as I do as expected of me by those who appointed me, I am very happy because I am doing exactly what I was appointed to do. The Arabia Market is not being extravagant by hosting 1 500 buyers and ZTA is extravagant hosting only 79 buyers? I feel pity for those people.
IG: Moving to another subject. ZTA is accused of bringing back the Miss Tourism-cum-Miss Zimbabwe beauty pageant via the back door after initially abandoning it unceremoniously? Why can’t ZTA lay its hands off beauty pageants?
KK: Again, our people need to understand us. Let me say we went to the Seychelles for a carnival with Vice President Joice Mujuru. At the carnival she asked us why we could not hold our own carnival as a way of promoting and marketing tourism.
We then took it on and then learnt from that country and, Brazil and Nigeria. In all carnivals the world over, they are led by a carnival queen. It, therefore, became mandatory that we start Miss Carnival to lead our carnival.
IG: Are you saying it is a trend?
KK: That is the point but I know where it is coming from. When we went to Nigeria we did not go there just to see their carnival we went to study their carnival. The team that went to Cape Town did not just go there to party and enjoy the show, they went to study. We do not go to other carnivals that are held in Nigeria but we went to other carnivals, but all these carnivals including the Seychelles one that we have been attending during the past three years. A carnival is led by a carnival queen and the queen is selected at least a week before the carnival. In Nigeria they even select the queen two days before the carnival.
Now if we say we want to run carnivals and we want to study what other countries are doing and we then learn that every country that runs a carnival which is led by a carnival queen. So how are we going to have our own thing? We looked at the selection process of the queen and we almost followed the selection process that we saw in Nigeria, Seychelles and South Africa. In actual fact, the current Miss Carnival Queen is Miss Seychelles because it is a small country with a population of less than 200 000. So their carnival queen automatically becomes Miss Seychelles but they call her carnival queen. And we call ours a carnival queen just like what we leant in Nigeria.
IG: Are you suggesting that the public media should not question what you do?
KK: I am not saying reporters from the publicly owned media should always agree with everything ZTA is doing or should agree with what Government is doing but should point out where things are being done wrongly. But when we were encouraged by the Vice President to run our own carnival we decided to study how carnivals are run and one thing that came out from all the carnivals is that you must first choose a carnival queen to spearhead the carnival and that is what we did.
IG: What is the future of Sanganai/Hlanganani?
KK: It is growing big together with our tourism industry. The industry has greater prospects of growing, now that we have a single-party Government. Get me right, it is not a one-party state but a single-party Government. Now that confusion of the inclusive Government is no longer there, I see the industry growing big.