Judith Phiri, Business Reporter
THE Zimbabwe Tourism Authority (ZTA) has said the Meetings Incentives Conventions and Exhibitions (MICE) tourism strategy is one of the remedies that has potential to turnaround the country’s tourism sector.
Alongside with the tourism sector, the MICE industry was hard hit by the tight global lockdown measures, which restricted local and international travel as governments sought to control the spread of the deadly Covid-19 pandemic. As the country works on strategies to foster a strong recovery from Covid-19, the MICE industry is said to play a critical role in rejuvenating economic activity in the country.
“The MICE industry is regarded as a key feature in tourism recovery, it thrives globally as it gives access to international events that can be attracted into the destination, translating into international arrivals. As a country, MICE tourism has been identified as one of the quick wins or remedies in our recovery from the Covid-19 pandemic because it is easier to sway business events than it is to influence leisure travel,” said ZTA chief operating officer Mr Givemore Chidzidzi.
He said since the launch of the Meet In Zimbabwe campaign last year, which is the MICE campaign, they have taken it beyond the borders as they have been participating at specialised MICE shows around the world. Mr Chidzidzi said they recently came back from leading a delegation to the IMEX Frankfurt 2022 in Germany.
“It is a trade exhibition in Germany for meetings, conventions, events and incentive travel. As ZTA we got the opportunity to also position Zimbabwe as a MICE destination alongside other destinations,” he added.
He said the focus now was on encouraging Zimbabweans to bid for conferences, attract meetings and events, while at ZTA they would provide technical assistance to the associations and companies that would submit the bids to create winning bids.
Mr Chidzidzi said coupled with that, they were also creating capacity in the MICE industry because it is a big industry which had not been focused on for some time.
One of the consultants under post-Covid-19 tourism impact assessment and stakeholder consultation, Ms Lee-Anne Bac from BDO Global said there is a need to create the right space in terms of growth and economic contribution.
“The industry was growing very well up until 2018, in fact far exceeding growth that the world was experiencing at around nine percent per annum. They were getting growth in terms of visitor arrivals but this plummeted in 2019 and then further in 2020 as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic so it’s time to take us back to 2018 levels of tourism numbers and beyond.”
Ms Bac said in terms of MICE tourism there was a need to attract large conferences coupled with good quality accommodation and tourism packages that offer great experiences that go beyond meeting in the conference room.
She said a starting point would be to link MICE tourism to the economic sectors of the country and look for events that link to the economy.