Robert Mukondiwa recently in Bulawayo
There is a serious problem with Sanganai/Hlanganani Travel Expo. And it is not particularly a bad one.
The problem? The expo has become very, very big.
All the arteries of the richly diverse City of Kings, as Bulawayo is affectionately known, were pumped up with activity as the week-long event rolled into town leaving the city with literally no room at the inn; any inn!
Attracting buyers from all over the world, the expo was more than proof that the nation had started winning hearts and minds yet again as the sun rises on the tourism sector after years of isolation from the rest of the world.
Granted, the Zimbabwe Tourism Authority, the mother of the event and gaining crowds into our ports had done exceptionally well under extremely unfavourable conditions, but if Karikoga Kaseke, the authority’s chief executive shone in the dark days, his job is going to flourish all the brighter now that the dawn on tourism has broken.
“We have always said that Zimbabwe should be a destination of choice and under the new dispensation and President Mnangagwa saying our nation is open for business, the floodgates have indeed been opened and people want to come to Zimbabwe and spend their money in the comfort of our hospitality,” said a bright faced Kaseke.
With ZTA and Government joining forces with the Joshua Nkomo Legacy Foundation, a bright smile was not the only thing sparkling on Kaseke; so too was his traditional Ndebele headgear, the Mqhele, which he wore to celebrate the partnership to keep the memory alive of one of Zimbabwe’s founding fathers. And wasn’t he just looking like a younger mini-Nyongolo in the traditional royal headgear?
“The present Government of President Mnangagwa has put a personal effort to make sure the image of the nation is revamped and we are seeing the fruits of the president’s vision. I will personally work hard to ensure that the president’s dreams and targets are met and his policy and dreams come to fruition to ensure a successful economy to which tourism will contribute positively towards,” he said.
The buyers were also buoyant.
Dwayne Tours and Safari’s from Botswana’s representative to the event celebrated how Zimbabwe had grown in recent years and how the Sanganai/Hlanganani Expo is one of the premium must-attend expos in Africa after the Indaba in Durban.
“You Zimbabweans are very privileged to be organised as you are and have an authority like ZTA that makes sure the industry is well managed. It is continuity that we envy and emulate and we continue to take notes on how you operate not only in Sanganai but also in other events like the carnival,” he said.
The downside may be how Bulawayo urgently needs to have new hotels built up as interest in the city of culture grows, as many people had to be housed far from the city centre and at times in places so far it is a wonder that the sun still shines there.
All is well that ends well and this resoundingly successful Sanganai/Hlanganani already set the buzz for next years’ edition with buyers saying in between now and then, Zimbabwe shall play host to tonnes of new smiles from visitors that they will bring in their drones to the world of wonders that is Zimbabwe!