Affordable packages buoy leisure industry

Kundai Marunya Lifestyle Writer
After sometime in the rat race; enduring the hustle and tussle of one’s day job; be it office work, blue colour jobs or even in the informal sector, one needs to let loose, refresh and revitalise their energy for another run at what brings food to the table.

For some, a day or night out is enough to do the trick, but eventually one runs out of leisure things to do in their immediate surroundings.

Holidaying is then a great alternative, but with the tough economic challenges, one has to think twice before embarking on one.

For starters, the planning, booking accommodation, finding out what you need to have a good time on, and even the best places to visit could be as tedious as, the day job one is trying to take a break from.

Going at it alone is so expensive that for many it would appear a luxury only the wealthy can afford, but is it really?

New service providers for domestic tourism have come to debunk that myth, fighting the embarrassing situation where only foreigners and the wealthy get to enjoy the beauty that is Zimbabwe.

Offering from day trips, weekend gateaways and even longer vacations, the emerging players continue finding ways to get low income groups to enjoy the most luxurious and majestic places around the country.

Among the emerging players #VisitZimbabwe is one of the prominent ones.

“The economy is not at its best cycle to allow people to travel, but we have been aiding people to do so through our packages,” said Sam Nyaude, #VisitZimbabwe destination expert.

“Packages by nature are supposed to harness the value of numbers to negotiate for discounts. However, we are firstly a tourism and hospitality marketing entity; we, therefore, negotiate for further discounts on a service exchange agreement.”

VisitZimbabwe started out with places closer to the city offering day trips, but have over the years grown to offer many unforgettable holiday packages, including the ultimate Lake Kariba experience.

“Most people, who have visited Kariba, only got to have the experience of its town, which is mainland Kariba.

“They then don’t get to enjoy the beauty that is Kariba, because the tourism element of Kariba is firstly Lake Kariba, then of course the wildlife encounters,” said Nyaude.

VisitZimbabwe is then fulfilling many people’s fantasies of being on a houseboat.

“Currently, we have a new thrust on pushing the houseboat experience to first-timers. Lake Kariba being the largest man-made lake can in no way be fully enjoyed on a two-hour cruise offered by most companies,” said Nyaude.

“Thus, one of our upcoming packages, where we have secured set departures on houseboats and offer the best of Kariba to groups, who would not ordinarily afford to charter a houseboat on their own. They get so spend at least two nights enjoying the best the lake has to offer.”

Besides Kariba, #VisitZimbabwe has been taking travellers to other major tourist destinations across the country.

“We are also doing packages to other major tourist destinations in Zimbabwe, like Nyanga. There we have the popular skybridge weekend escapes, which we are resuming in October, thanks to a new agreement that we have made with the proprietors there,” said Nyaude.

They have also been regulars at the annual Victoria Falls Carnival where they have been facilitating and hosting groups for over five years now.

Also to broaden the local tourism industry, #VisitZimbabwe has been sharing pieces of heaven that are not as popular and not as frequented by both international and domestic tourists.

“We are also opening new routes; we have already set up a package for Mavhuradona Wilderness, one area seldom spoken of, but offering stunning landscapes and fantastic hiking opportunities,” said Nyaude.

“Another new package we have, also starting in November, will be to the spiritual Matobo area.”

Yes, their packages may be more affordable than planning a holiday on your own, but in this tough economy many people may still not afford to travel.

Understanding the need for holidaying has led #VisitZimbabwe to come up with holiday premiums.

“Many Zimbabweans fail to travel because of lack of a saving culture. Yes, times are tough, and the economy is unpredictable, but holidays are generally not meant to be out of pocket expenses for ordinary citizens,” said Nyaude.

“We are starting a scheme where ordinary people can slowly save for their holidays, be it a day trip to a destination nearby or to a five-night stay afar. This way more local people will be able to travel, explore and enjoy the beauty of Zimbabwe; A World of Wonders.”

Another emerging company aiding in low budget leisure travel is Pamushana Traveltainment, formerly a public service vehicle company that has now tapped into the tourism market.

Pamushana proprietor Hardlife Chipika said they organise group travels to cut costs.

“We have noted that the majority of Zimbabweans are told of our beautiful tourist attraction by foreigners, or by the media, hence, we saw an opportunity to explore that by offering our people affordable travel packages.

“We noted that many people would want to travel, but accommodation was proving a hindrance as it is priced out of reach at these tourist destinations, so we started with one day tours in October last year where we took 120 clients to Nyanga,” he said.

“We eradicated the accommodation costs as we departed Harare around 6am and we visited Mtarazi world’s view Nyangombe and Troutbeck, and returned in the evening.”

Chipika said they dealt with transport costs by using a minibus.

“The cost to go to Nyanga as an individual using a private vehicle will require $1 575, for fuel alone. So, instead, we use 15-seater Toyota Quantums, cutting costs to $100 per person, hence, 15 people would have saved $1 475 each by travelling with us,” he said.

Pamushana has travelled to various destinations, including Great Zimbabwe, Inyati Game Park in Rusape, Kariba, Mazowe, Domboshava, Ngomakurira Mountains, Matopos, Chengeta Safari and Umfurudzi Game Park.

Having visited all the aforementioned resorts on single day tours, Pamushana recently introduced weekend gateaways starting this weekend.

“We have introduced weekend gateaways starting with Nyanga and Vumba from August 30 to September 1, where we are touring Nyanga and Vumba,”said Chipika.

“We have entered into partnership with Sun Vacations, who are our accommodation partners, and negotiated for discounts for our travellers. At the end we still maintain affordability.”

The trip costs $800, which covers two nights’ accommodation, transport and meals.

Thanks to innovative entrepreneurs, holidays are now affordable for everyone.

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