Editorial Comment: NY Times throws down the gauntlet

via Editorial Comment: NY Times throws down the gauntlet | The Herald January 13, 2015

A New York Times ranking published on January 9 titled “52 Places to Go in 2015”, ranks Zimbabwe the 14th best tourist destination for 2015.

The NY Times story observes that Zimbabwe’s “beauty and bounty have been overshadowed by political unrest and economic collapse over the last few decades, but today, the government is finally stable, the over-inflated Zimbabwean dollar is gone, and the prices are low.”

Apart from the traditional tourist destinations such as the Victoria Falls, the majestic Zambezi River, Matopo Hills and others, the NY Times also points out the biggest attractions to Zimbabwe “might be the abundance of game, including hippos and lions, on full view on water safaris, like those offered by the new luxury cruiser Matusadona, or the old-fashioned way, by land, at upscale lodges like Bomani Tented Lodge in Hwange National Park.”

The NY Times and other rating agencies have done their part — endorsing Zimbabwe as a competitive tourist attraction that has a lot to offer to potential visitors.

It is the value addition that Zimbabwe will give to rankings like this and others that will give meaning and enable the industry to get better every year, even striving for the number one slot. The NY Times and other agencies that carry out such ratings are doing this for their valued clients. If they say Zimbabwe is among the top 14 tourist destinations for 2015, what they are doing is to indirectly open business opportunities for Zimbabwe.

The latest good news also flies in the face of Zimbabweans who are in the habit of de-campaigning their own country for political ends. Today, we cry about economic challenges while others want to use euphemisms such “targeted sanctions” or “restrictive measures” to please their foreign sponsors.

At times we are our own worst enemy.

If we have to meaningfully transform Zim-Asset into policies with practical programmes, we have to start asking why a major newspaper such the NY Times invests so much time and money in coming up with 52 best tourist destinations the world over. If there is something in it for them, there should be more for us. It’s also a paradox that people we think are our foes are sometimes willing to tell the truth: we are a beautiful nation that does not deserve the media bashing.

Most Zimbabweans, especially the Internet/social media community, have cocooned themselves in an imaginary Zimbabwe, refusing to get out of that shell and discover the true beauty that is evident even to outsiders. They continue to give a bleak picture of Zimbabwe against the truth before their eyes. While people like MDC-T leader Morgan Tsvangirai still talk about “a political crisis” in Zimbabwe, the NY Times talks of a “stable government” in place after the 2013 harmonised elections convincingly won by Zanu-PF.

There is room to undo the damage. The NY Times site is interactive and they ask Zimbabweans and other people who know the country to supply them with more information: “What did we miss in Zimbabwe? Tell us what to see? What do you love to do? Share your tips . . .”

This presents unlimited opportunities to market Zimbabwe through pictures and other devices, but the bottom-line is to entice tourists to come to Zimbabwe. The tourism industry can build business models based on this.

It’s up to Zimbabweans to take up this opportunity and show the world that after all the last can be first and also to demonstrate that we are unstoppable. Illegal sanctions have helped destroy the old economy, leading to a new economy, new communities and new lifestyles. Everything is new, and waiting to be seen.

The peace in the midst of all the challenges also make Zimbabwe an attractive destination. We also have a tourism ministry that is among the best in the world. It is time all the relevant stakeholders worked hand in hand to ensure that this top slot is maintained.

That includes a better pricing regime in hotels, upgrading the road network and other communication infrastructure, and most important, power generation.

It is indeed a shame that while foreigners see so much of beauty and bounty in Zimbabwe we have petty local politicians who cling onto imaginary “political instability” in the country.


  • comment-avatar
    Linders Pool 7 years ago

    There is no doubt it isa beautiful tourist destination. However the above article hides the truth of a number of stolen elections, greed, corruption, and many crimes including murder being commited by the ruling elite. There is no stable Government and there is no rule of law. The article is typical Herald trash.

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    Picking and choosing is what The Herald does best. Tell ZRP to stop the roadblocks and desist from stealing fines from drivers and you will have more tourists.

    I live in Canada, in my 13 years of living here, I have come across a road block, yes believe it or not, police here do not put road block to inconvenience drivers. It just does not happen. yet in Zimbabwe, from Harare to Chitungwiza, you have several roadblocks. Police in Canada will never demand that a driver pays a ticket in cash. Never

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    William Doctor 7 years ago

    I say boycott until Mugabe goes …

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    Kilimanjaro 7 years ago

    if it is that good, so why are tourists not coming? will they come because of this piece by NY times? will we suddently have many tourists by our boarder points and airports? If you continue hiding from the truth, you can as well believe that we will have the 14th highest number of tourist arrivals in the world since we are the 14th most attractive! kkk that will never happen! chimbosiyai chimhondi chenyu mazanu, corruption, humbimbindoga, hudzvinyiriri, disorderliness, nehudhodhi!

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    Brian 7 years ago

    Zim=corruption. Therefore, that’s the explanation for what happens. Cops = $$$. Politicians = $$$. The big boys do it so the little boys do it. The First “Lady” does it! RGM does it! The classic African tin-pot dictator with “loyal” followers, but a lot slyer. Visit Zim? Feed corruption?

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    Well done ZIm!! Nice to hear some positive news once in a while! Well done Walter Mzembi… You are definitely playing your part, despite your party’s many failings!