When Chinese films became prominent back in the 1980s, where actors such as Jackie-Chan featured in ‘Drunken Masters’ and ‘The Dragon’, among many others, people wanted to visit China to see and learn about the country’s karate and kung-fu movies.
The same applies to the American movies that portray New York City as a place where dreams are fulfilled. Such a portrayal can lure tourists across the globe to visit the famous US city.
In Zimbabwe, the film industry also has the potential to positively contribute to the local tourism sector.
The country’s filmmakers have said they can use films to positively contribute to tourism growth in Zimbabwe if they get financial support from the government and access to tourist attraction sites, as locations for their set up in rural tourism.
In an interview, Ngoni Chinovava a film producer of the famous ‘Seiko’ said the film industry in Zimbabwe can be used as a tool to market tourism if it gets sufficient funding.
“The filming industry plays a critical role in promoting tourism if it produces films of high quality and market the tourist resorts in Zimbabwe. For instance, if we produce a film of higher quality themed on traditional heritage at Matopos, Great Zimbabwe or Mana Pools, people who watch it will be keen to know more about the place. There are a lot of untold stories of such places that can be told in a movie,” said Chinovava.
“Films are effective means of communicating and marketing just as other media platforms: newspapers, radio and television. However, unlike newspaper, radio and television stories, films do not expire. Imagine, people are still watching ‘Yellow Card’ today a film that was made in 2000.”
He said due to lack of funding, the sector is producing films with themes influenced and aligned with the source of funding.
“We need support from government, tourism stakeholders and shareholders in order for us to make these films with a common agenda of promoting tourism in Zimbabwe.”
In a separate interview, renowned film producer, Marc T Mandisoul told The Southern Times that Zimbabwean films can showcase the country’s urban infrastructure to show tourist that Zimbabwe can be a home away from home.
“Film plays a huge role in promoting tourism in any country. In Zimbabwe, we can use our tourist resorts as film locations as I am doing with my new project ‘State of Malambia’, filming in Hwange, Great Zimbabwe, Nyanga, Kariba and other spaces of beauty,” said Mandisoul.
“The urban infrastructure is showcased as well to highlight that we have five-star hotels, good streets, nice restaurants and classy entertainment places for our guests. We can exhibit the beautiful side of Zimbabwe through our locations and storytelling.”
However, he said the issue of red tape in the access of the locations has been hindering the film industry from promoting tourism in Zimbabwe.
“It has not been easy previously to get access to these locations but hopefully under the new dispensation, it will be easier.
“For the film ‘Zambezi’, I had to pay Mbizi Game Park for location after the national parks turned down my request to shoot in Hwange.
“The owners and authorities have to be receptive to us using these centres.”