eTN’s exclusive article about Zimbabwe smearing Kenya’s Tourism had caused quiet some attention in Zimbabwe and Kenya among tourism leaders.
It started with Kenya’s marketing agency in London, Hills Balfour attacking eTN in some internal emails to its Nairobi client, the KTB. The Hills Balfour agent in charge of the Kenya Tourism Board indirectly accused eTN to have started a dirty twitter campaign because Zimbabwe tourism was paying. (eTN: Zimbabwe Tourism is not an advertiser)
When eTN reached out to Hills Balfour in London by phone and email, a response by the agency was not received. This is surprising since Kenya Tourism is paying Hills Balfour a good amount of money to provide communication and respond on behalf of the Kenya Tourism Board, specifically in the current crisis situation.
The mystery remains, who owns the twitter account in question: https://twitter.com/zanu_pf ? Ironically the same twitter account on October 2013 posted Kenya was a safe tourism destination, same as Zimbabwe. Why is this so different now? eTN could independently validate the October tweet but believes it’s authentic.
In Zimbabwe nothing happens without a nod from the top, and the link on this twitter account is active and goes to the ruling Zimbabwe party website. All postings seemed to be included to glorify the Zimbabwe dictator Robert Mugabe. One recent tweet today by zanu_pf said:
“:Goooooood moooooooorrrrrrnnnniinnnnngggggggg Zimbabwe! Ask not what Cde Mugabe can do for you today, but what you can do for him.”
Just yesterday zanu_pf tweeted in response to Kenya’s protest: “Truth is Kenya is an unsafe tourist destination, instead if attacking Zimbabwe they should redirect their tourists here.”
Charles imo @charles_imo responded: “tourists are white haha”
Officially at the ongoing high profile ROUTES Africa airline and airport conference in Zimbabwe Michael Riungu who is representing the Kenya Tourism Board worked hard for Zimbabwe Tourism to issue a statement in response to the eTN article.
Kenya officials asked Zimbabwe to ensure that this statement would be apologetic, and included a reassuring and welcome message from the head of Zimbabwe tourism Muriithi that Kenya is safe, mentioning all efforts Kenya is making.
Both parties had called for a press conference before the Routes Africa Conference begins.
Here is the “official” version of the Zimbabwe statement. In the meantime the Zimbabwe smear campaign continues on twitter:
PRESS STATEMENT BY THE CHIEF EXECUTIVE OF THE ZIMBABWE TOURISM AUTHORITY MR KARIKOGA KASEKE –
1. It has come to our attention that there is a story doing the rounds on the social media entitled “Don’t risk your life in Kenya – come to Zimbabwe for a safe holiday”
2. This story is being attributed to a tweeter handle @zanu_pf with some people thinking that “it is the Zimbabwe Tourism Authority with an obvious highly unethical tourism promotion on tweeter and a call to the public to re-tweet these messages containing as smear campaign against Kenya Tourism.”
3. The Zimbabwe Tourism Authority would like to categorically state that:
• It has got absolutely nothing to do with the tweets and that we are not bankrupt of marketing ideas and strategies to embark on such a cheap smear campaign.
• This is absolutely mischievous and malicious from whoever is doing that
• The timing of such action to coincide with the very successful Routes Africa Forum currently in progress in Victoria Falls begs more questions than answers.
• The official tweeter handle for the Zimbabwe Tourism Authority is @tourismzimbabwe and facebook accounts are http://www.facebook.com/zimbabwetourism and http://www.facebook.com/zimbabwetourismauthorityzta
• We have checked with the ruling ZANU PF party and can confirm that the official tweeter handle for the revolutionary party is @teamzimassetupdate and not @zanu_pf
• Zimbabwe and Kenya enjoy cordial relationships at government level and the Zimbabwe Tourism Authority enjoys the same with its counterpart in Kenya, the Kenya Tourist Board
• Further the ZANU PF Party would also not engage in such bankrupt politics
• Zimbabweans, having gone through big challenges themselves, would naturally not celebrate the challenges facing a sister country
• We indeed sympathise with the people of Kenya for the losses of innocent lives
• We have had very cordial and fruitful deliberations on bilateral relations between Zimbabwe Tourism Authority and Kenya Tourism Board premised on improved connectivity between the two countries as facilitated by the Routes Africa Forum. These include among other areas of cooperation reciprocal participation at each other’s travel show in October: Magical Kenya Expo from 08 – 10 October and Sanganai/Hlanganani from 16 – 18 October
Issued by the Corporate Affairs Department of the Zimbabwe Tourism Authority