Leonard Ncube, Victoria Falls reporter
INTERNATIONAL buyers from around the world continue their journey through the country’s resort towns and visited Victoria Falls over the weekend as part of the activities leading up to the Sanganai/Hlanganani World Tourism Expo.
A total of 100 buyers from all over the world are expected to attend the 15th edition of Prime Tourism Expo, which starts in Bulawayo on Thursday and ends on Saturday.
In 2020 the event was virtual and in 2021 it was a hybrid event due to Covid-19.
On Saturday and Sunday, a group of buyers from Botswana, Kenya, South Africa, India and other countries tried out some of the exciting touristic things to do in different locations.
Some of the activities include a tour of the mighty falls, a sunset cruise, a bridge tour, a zip line, and game drives, among others. They had dinner at a local hotel on Sunday night and were welcomed by the Zimbabwe Tourism Authority (ZTA), which is hosting the first Sanganai/Hlanganani event.
ZTA spokesman Mr. Godfrey Koti said they were excited by the ongoing target tours of international buyers, adding that everything was in place for the show to be successfully hosted.
“As we build momentum leading up to the event, this is an opportunity for Bulawayo to position itself as a unique cultural and tourism destination given its rich heritage and attractive facilities in the area,” he said.
He said everything was fine and the organizers were looking forward to a successful fair, including the side events, which include the tourism investment conference, the co-organized Zimra breakfast meeting, the ministers’ roundtable meeting, the family fun day, the focus on sports tourism and a session for students in tourism.
In a speech in Victoria Falls, buyers said there was a need to vigorously market local tourism spots.
“I am here to sell my land and also to understand other new authentic sites in Zimbabwe. Our focus this time is on Zimbabwe and Sadc and we are grateful to ZTA and the team for doing an excellent job as we need to help each other sell Zimbabwe,” said a buyer from Botswana.
Another, identified as Carol from Kenya, said touring Zimbabwe in recent days has been eye-opening and beneficial. “We have benefited from being in Zimbabwe for the past two days as we now fully understand why Zimbabwe is a world of wonder.
The experience is great and we also got to see the falls through the eye of an elephant, that is a rare experience when interacting with elephants and we are already enjoying this destination and hope to interact with more Zimbabweans in Sanganai/Hlanganani,” said you.
Carol said globalization should also be implemented in tourism, where African member states should push for seamless tourism.
“We are becoming an Africa without borders as we look forward to seamless itineraries across the continent. There’s so much that people don’t know that we’re excited to agent and Hlanganani is an event not to be missed,” she said.
Mr Dideye Bayeye, a tourism expert from Global Travel Africa Network in Johannesburg, said Victoria Falls is an amazing travel destination but few Africans have visited it. He implored travel agencies to promote the destination.
“Being here to attend the Hlanganani Tourism Fair means a lot and this trip organized ahead of the conference is a great experience as we try to promote African destinations.
“We need to unite as travel agents and tour operators to promote African destinations in our material, bucket list and websites so customers know that Zimbabwe is a great destination for Africans too. This is a call for all Africans to consider Zimbabwe as a travel destination,” he said.
Mr Vikas Mittal from India said Zimbabwe will benefit from millions of Indian tourists in the years to come.
“So far the host has shared a lot of information and it is very informative. Indians have changed their travel habits and want to explore nature, cultures and roots. In the next five to ten years, Indians will be among the top travelers. They are exploring different areas and Africa is coming our way,” he said.
“We’ve seen Indians like South Africa and more recently Kenya and they’re looking beyond that and Zimbabwe is on their list. Zimbabwean food and accommodation is attractive.” – @ncubeleon.