By Jonathan Mbiriyamveka
The 11th edition of Sanganai/Hlanganani World Tourism Expo which was officially opened by Vice President Retired General Constantino Chiwenga at Zimbabwe International Trade Fair Exhibition Park in Bulawayo last month offered renewed hope spurred by the new dispensation which ended decades of isolation from the tourism global stage.
The edition was the first since the coming in of the new dispensation led by President Emmerson Mnangagwa which is credited for, among other things, rebounding Zimbabwe on the big business and tourism stage.
So far, indications are that Zimbabwe is on an upward trajectory in tourism after three decades in isolation where tourists’ arrivals were dire.
The expo, which ran from September 5 to 8, saw stakeholders from across the globe converging in the City of Kings and Queens taking part in site tours that make up brand Zimbabwe.
International buyers from key source markets said Zimbabwe is "saleable" and "buyable".
“People do not want to see what they see in Tanzania, South Africa and some of the African countries but rather tourists are interested in the uniqueness of a country,” said Anne-Leen De Backer of the Travel Designer of Sensations from Belgium.
“With this said, the buyers hope to advise the Zimbabwean tourism industry on how they can improve their marketing from what they have seen, felt and loved in Zimbabwe.”
The buyers had the opportunity of sampling and appreciating the country’s tourism products that will aid informed packaging across markets.
The tours proffered Zimbabwe’s tourism hotspots of Mana Pools, Bumi Hills, Kariba Dam, Eastern Highlands, Gonarezhou National Park, Masvingo, Victoria Falls, Hwange National Park, Binga, Matopo Hills and Bulawayo.
Bruno Alegi, a buyer from France, said that Zimbabwe has a friendly atmosphere, from the people to the tourist destinations and as such would strongly sell Zimbabwe to tourists.
The several buyers who took part at the expo were a clear sign of the confidence that the international market has on destination Zimbabwe, especially with the rejuvenated interest that has been exhibited since November 2017.
It is such an exciting time for Zimbabwe tourism to leverage on this goodwill with the major thrust of regaining the lost market share and increasing tourism traffic to Zimbabwe.
Sanganai/Hlanganani expo is a business-to-business exposition that presents networking opportunities between the buyers, exhibitors and the travel trade.
The 11th edition of Sanganai/Hlanganani World Tourism Expo saw 318 companies and 22 foreign countries exhibited representing 77 companies in attendance.