Binga gets tourism limelight

via Binga gets tourism limelight | The Financial Gazette – Zimbabwe News by Shame Makoshori 19 Sep 2013

ZIMBABWE’s tourism industry heads for the north western resort town of Binga next week to commemorate the World Tourism Day, a month after the country hosted the United Nations World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO) general assembly.World Tourism Day is held on September  27 every year.

This year’s celebrations would be held under the theme “Tourism and Water — Protecting Our Common Future”.

Binga, a prime tourist destination with a diverse range of attractions that include rich wildlife, the Zambezi River and well conserved traditional cultures, is among the worst marketed destinations.

The decision by government to celebrate the World Tourism Day in the resort could be part of strategies aimed at shifting the country’s focus towards neglected resorts around the country.

Other resorts that have been affected by poor marketing efforts include Lake Kariba and Masvingo.

However, Masvingo received a fair share of global exposure during the UNWTO summit.

The Ministry of Tourism and Hospitality Industry arranged daily flights to the resort from Victoria Falls for delegates to sample what Great Zimbabwe offered.

In an interview on the sidelines of the conference, tourism minister, Walter Mzembi admitted that destination marketing had been concentrated on a few place attractions.

“Kariba makes my heart sore,” Mzembi said.

“The world over, water and tourism go hand in hand. We must go back to Kariba. The mischief that we seek to cure is the issue of poor perception,” said Mzembi.

A statement released by government last week said in line with the theme, the key message during this year’s conference would be raising awareness of proper water management, and its effects on poverty.

“The year 2013 marks the UN international year of water and cooperation, which aims to raise awareness of the potential for increased cooperation and the challenges facing sustainable water management,” the statement said.

“According to the United Nations Development Programme appropriate water management and universal water access can alleviate poverty through sanitation services and water supply; improve the health of people around the globe; and enhance the productivity of land and labour. In line with the UN international year of water cooperation, the World Tourism Day theme is ‘Tourism and Water — Protecting Our Common Future,” said the statement.

This year’s commemorations come as the country has reported an increase in tourist arrivals.

Results released by the Zimbabwe Tourism Authority (ZTA) last week indicated that the country recorded a 12 percent increase in tourist arrivals in the first half of 2013 to 859 995, from 767 393 at the same time last year.

“This growth is clearly testimony of the country’s improved destination image,” said the ZTA.

“The ever increasing regional trade and commerce also contributed immensely to this growth in arrivals, through the activities of business tourists, cross border traders and transiting tourists, mostly drawn from DRC, Tanzania, Malawi, Mozambique and Zambia. Notable increases were recorded in Victoria Falls and Midlands along with Hwange, Nyanga and Bulawayo which had modest increases,” the report said.