via ZTA engages Dutch tourism group – DailyNews Live 24 October 2014 by Eric Chiriga
HARARE – The Zimbabwe Tourism Authority (ZTA) has signed a tour services agreement with the Netherlands-based Aviareps Tourism (Aviareps) under a cost-effective strategy to market the country.
The destination promotion partnership covers Belgium, the Netherlands and Luxembourg —known as the Benelux market — and under a new thrust or process which Authority chief executive Karikoga Kaseke said would be the replacement of tourism attaches worldwide.
“That’s the best practice (at the moment) and Africa’s leading destinations like Kenya, and South Africa (SA) have successfully used this model for years,” he said, adding Harare could save millions and based on an average 20 000 Euro budget per delegate a month.
While Kaseke has said tourism numbers from that European market have plummeted from 39 000 in 1999 to 14 000 last year, the ZTA boss says they were hopeful of an improvement in arrivals from the market.
According to the ex-Civil Aviation Authority of Zimbabwe chief executive, cost savings could be made in house and office rentals as well as routine salaries — which would translate into a “75 percent saving on basic costs of maintaining tourism attachés in similar markets”.
“This issue of tourism attaches does not work. You cannot fire an attaché even if they fail to perform,” Kaseke said, adding that “we are changing that and we hope our market, and principals will accept (this development)”.
Zimbabwe is currently working towards reviving its once lucrative tourism industry, drubbed by political instability and an economic crisis at some point, leading to negative perception in key source markets.
And according to the ZTA, the three-year Aviareps deal is part of those efforts to shift marketing strategies and President Robert Mugabe’s government was also mulling wholesale changes to the current destination promotion model.
Even, though, they had approvals to send or deploy tourism attaches outside key source markets, including China, Germany, Nigeria, SA and the United States, Kaseke said they were hoping to go the direction such as that taken with the Dutch group.
While there were monitoring mechanisms to evaluate a market representative’s performance regularly, it was quite difficult to assess an attaché’s delivery, he said.
With the Aviareps deal taking effect in January 2015 and also approved by the Tourism ministry, the ZTA boss said the group will be paid a retainer.
Mincke Pijpers, the company’s general manager, said their major task was to “educate the Benelux market about Zimbabwe” as the country “is still considered as an unsafe destination to travel to”.
“We are going to rebrand Zimbabwe,” she said, adding that Aviareps will launch a marketing campaign on the southern African country, which hosts the world famous Victoria Falls.
At its peak about 15 years ago, Zimbabwe attracted about 2,2 million visitors.
Latest ZTA statistics indicate that the country recorded a two percent growth in tourist arrivals from 1 794 230 in 2012 to 1 832 570 in 2013.
The majority of 2013 arrivals were low-spending tourists from mainland Africa who came in at 1 570 799.