The 2016 edition of Sanganai, Zimbabwe’s international tourism trade show, this morning opens its doors in the second largest city of Bulawayo, where a major showground offers more space to exhibitors compared to the Rainbow Convention Centre in Harare.
Zimbabwe Tourism Authority’s CEO Karikoga Kaseke yesterday afternoon gave a comprehensive brief to over 100 media representatives and exhibitors at the Rainbow Hotel in Bulawayo ahead of the official opening of the tourism trade show later this morning.
Kaseke was clear when he said the government of Zimbabwe was now in full agreement that tourism should become the country’s number one economic performer, foreign exchange earner, investment magnet and job provider, as ZTA is moving ahead to promote the destination with new vigour.
Kaseke revealed during the media briefing that the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe has in principle agreed to make subsidised loans available to modernize, upgrade and enlarge existing hospitality businesses, with special emphasis on women owned enterprises. The loans, when disbursed to qualifying companies, will reduce the current high interest rates into approximately half, making it financially viable to take out bank loans to improve facilities. In a second phase, later on, will then loans also be made available under this scheme to add new facilities.
Kaseke did say that at present average occupancies of hotels, resorts and safari lodges / camps stands between 56 and 60 percent but that the expected rise in visitor numbers sooner or later will require new properties to be developed.
He also responded to questions when asked for his three top priorities to revive the tourism sector by pointing at grass root enterprises, cooperatives and community based businesses which he said need to be supported and facilitated to see benefits from larger visitor numbers again percolate down to the locations surrounding national parks, monuments and scenic sites.
Present at the Sanganai Tourism Fair will be the Minister for Tourism and Hospitality Industry, the Hon. Eng. Dr. Walter Mzembi as well as Vice President Hon. P Mphoko and Vice President Hon. E.D. Mnangangwa, showing the importance the Zimbabwean government attaches to this event.
Hosted buyers from around the world arrived yesterday from their various familiarisation tours which took them to the country’s key attractions, including the Victoria Falls, the ruins of the ancient kingdom of Great Zimbabwe and the main national parks.
Media representatives of leading tourism publications, among them eTurboNews and ATC News, are also in the country to report about the trade fair proceedings and speak with leading officials from the Ministry of Tourism and Hospitality Industry, the Zimbabwe Tourism Authority and the Zimbabwe Civil Aviation Authority, among others, to gauge the determination with which the government is now aiming to replace agriculture with tourism as the number one economic sector.