The funds allocated by Zimbabwe’s Ministry of Finance to prepare for and hold the 2016 edition of the Sanganai Hlanganani World Tourism Expo, have paid off handsomely it seems, as the trade show went underway yesterday.
Using two of the largest exhibition halls, number 4 and 5 at the Bulawayo show ground, all foreign and local exhibitors this year found space to showcase their offerings. This is unlike last year in Harare at the Rainbow Tower Convention Centre, where additional demand went unanswered due to a lack of exhibition stalls.
Foreign exhibitors, among them “Incredible India” as well as the tourism boards of Zambia, Botswana, Malawi, Mozambique, and the Southern African regional tourism organization RETOSA, this year numbered 35, up from just 11 last year. Local exhibitor numbers, however, showed the numerically sharpest rise from 128 to 236 overall.
Even the number of hosted buyers and from the regional and international media went up, a further sign that tourism in Zimbabwe is on the upswing again after years of downturn and stagnation, and the mood among local exhibitors was testament to that.
Inns of Zimbabwe Chairman Gordon Addams, the marketing group brings together dozens of upmarket properties from across the country, however also professed that parts of the country, like the Eastern Highlands, need more exposure and visibility from the international media, given the world-class attractions found there but little known beyond Zimbabwe’s borders.
Meanwhile, the opening night party was a roaring success with Bulawayo’s local music heroes “Jeyz Marabini” thrilling the crowd after Gemma Griffith’s opening act.
Later this morning, day two will open at the fairground before on Saturday the show will be open to the public with large numbers of students from hospitality and tourism colleges from across Zimbabwe expected in Bulawayo to gain first-hand experience from exhibitors what tourism is all about.
It was also revealed that the next three exhibitions will again be held in Bulawayo at the same venue at dates still to be advised.