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Hlanganani Expo kicks off

by Staff reporter
13 Oct 2022 at 05:54hrs | Views
THE 15th Hlanganani/Sanganai World Tourism Expo opens in Bulawayo today with a packed schedule of intense business engagement sessions as Zimbabwe seeks to capitalise on the showcase to drive higher tourism earnings.

Local and international tourism operators arrived in the city yesterday ahead of the three-day expo, which stretches up to Saturday under the theme: "Thinking Investment — Explore Zimbabwe Tourism Opportunities".

This year's specialised tourism expo has already surpassed its initial target of 250 exhibitors with organisers indicating more than 270 participants expected to attend.

As Zimbabwe drives to marketing itself as a world-class tourism destination, the Hlanganani/Sanganai Expo, which returns to its physical format this year after a two year disruption due to Covid-19, is expected to give impetus in rejuvenating the sector and enhancing momentum towards attaining a US$5 billion a year milestone by 2025.

The premier tourism expo provides a unique platform for partnerships and brings together sector providers under the same roof with buyers, agents and potential travellers.

Alongside business to business engagements, there will be high-level sideline conferences such as the Zimbabwe Revenue Authority breakfast meeting with tourism operators today, which will unpack tax regulation matters and how to improve modalities of doing business in the sector.

Zimra Commissioner-General Ms Regina Chinamasa is expected to be the guest of honour with at least 200 delegates expected to attend the breakfast meeting.

Tomorrow there will be a Ministerial Roundtable Session to facilitate high-level policy dialogue on tourism with a separate business forum on the same day.

Yesterday, the City of Bulawayo launched its cycling culture while a new city hotel is scheduled for opening. Leisure and entertainment are part of the programme with a family music festival planned for Saturday.

ZTA chief executive Ms Winnie Muchanyuka said yesterday all systems were in place for the successful hosting of the expo.

"We have managed to surpass the target of exhibitors that we set ourselves. We had set a target of 250 exhibitors but as of today (yesterday) we had 270 exhibitors," she said.

"Our participation is coming from other African countries such as Rwanda, South Africa, Zambia, Botswana, Mozambique and Malawi."

On the distribution of international buyers, 100 buyers drawn from Germany, United Kingdom, United States of America, the Middle East, Australia and India are already in the country while all local provinces are represented.

As a run up to the expo, several international buyers from across the world toured some of the country's resort destinations that include Nyanga and Victoria Falls as part of the pre-Hlanganani/Sanganai World Tourism Expo activities.

Ms Muchanyuka said the exhibition dovetails the ideals of the National Development Strategy five year blue-print that builds a solid base towards Vision 2030.

"Tourism has been identified as one of the key pillars of NDS1 and coming out of Covid-19, the greatest lesson we learnt was that we have not been paying much attention to our domestic tourism," she said.

"On domestic tourism, I am not speaking about leisure tourism. The driver has been business tourism, anything that comes out of conferences and exhibitions, and that is where the numbers are going to come from.

"The international numbers are expected to trickle in but what we need to pay attention to and drive is domestic tourism and spread over leisure and business."

On the contentious pricing model of the local product which is said to crowd out Zimbabweans, Ms Muchanyuka said measures are being taken to rectify the anomaly.

"The product that we have as Zimbabwe was geared towards the international travellers and that tended to be expensive for local travellers," she said.

"We engaged local operators and conscientised them to listen to the voice that is coming from the market that we are expensive, and we need to find ways within our operations to bring down the cost of tourism. Operators have come on board to rationalise pricing."

Ms Muchanyuka acknowledged the support from all sectors of the economy who assisted in organising the expo.

The exhibition comes at a time when tourism is on a growth trajectory following the relaxation of Covid-19 travel restrictions and lockdowns.

Official statistics indicate that the country recorded 352 719 tourist arrivals in the first-half of the year, up 115 percent from 164 062 tourist arrivals received during the same period last year with a majority of the visitors coming in from the USA and UK.

In 2020, the Government launched the National Tourism Recovery and Growth Strategy to re-start the sector, whose contribution to the national economy has been heavily crippled by the measures needed to fight Covid-19.

Source - The Herald