The Hon. Priscah Mupfumira, Minister of Tourism and Hospitality for Zimbabwe was all optimistic at ITB Berlin, the world’s largest travel industry exhibition 7-11 March 2012
Delegates showed the Zimbabwe flag high and proud and Karkoga Kaseke, CEO of Zimbabwe Tourism told visitors at his stand, business is back to normal and Zimbabwe is open for business. The Zimbabwe ambassador to Germany encouraged Germany to consider Zimbabwe and said it was the best opportunity to travel and to invest in her country.
At the same time, the CEO told eTurboNews the old leadership under former minister of tourism Dr. Walter Mzembi never did anything useful for tourism. He added the old government was corrupt and criminal and Dr. Mzembi will be ending in jail. He asked eTN to quote him on this.
Obviously, such messages are less encouraging and it shows the state of confusion, hate, and reality that is present in the Zimbabwe of today and the power-play that needs to be addressed and healed.
It appears the change in leadership in this Southern African nation has been a frustrating experience. A well functioning and developed tourism industry have to deal with this often hateful outburst and frustration by their officials.
The same officials, on the other hand, are trying to give a picture of hope and confidence for tourism and investments – it is confusing.
Kaseke said roadblocks that had been haunting tourists for years are gone, and it’s safe to visit Zimbabwe anywhere.
A local Zimbabwe newspaper estimated a loss of millions of dollars in potential revenue through missed opportunities to attract investments from international markets due to delays in the payment to Messe Berlin of booked space at the ITB event.
This number is certainly not based on research and made up.
Zimbabwe only managed to make payment for their booking a week before the event which meant the country had no confirmed appointments and had to fall back on walk-ins or ad-hoc meetings.
Compared to other destinations like Namibia and South Africa who invested heavily in participating at this event, Zimbabwe could not manage its $140 000 budget resulting in both the Ministry of Tourism and Hospitality Industry and the Zimbabwe Tourism Authority body raising the red flag on this issue.
Certainly, even $140,000 is a big amount under any standard, and as reported by eTN today ITB seemed to have been a lot more quiet this year- not only for Zimbabwe.
Tour operators from Zimbabwe attending ITB had a lot more confident. Delegated had nothing bad to say about the situation, about the former or current minister, the CEO or anyone else. They said Zimbabwe was open for business and investments, and tourism had the quality visitors would expect traveling to their country.
Senior tourism officials including the CEO and the minister left Berlin early on Friday, missing 2 busy consumer trade days.