By Isdore Guvamombe
Zimbabwe, which had a record 51 companies exhibiting at the African Travel Indaba in Durban, South Africa, became an unprecedented centre of attraction for tourist wholesalers, buyers, investors and tour operators from across the spectrum, who flocked to seek investment, travel and tourism opportunities under the new political dispensation.
At no stage in history has Zimbabwe taken that big number of companies to Indaba, the highest being 19 in 2017 but this year the figure has grown to 51, forcing a spillage that saw several companies exhibiting outside the main stand that can only accommodate 32 companies.
Both the main stand and the individual stands that were dotted over Indaba became a hive of activity with many companies inquiring about the country’s vast array of tourist attractions, saying they had confidence in the new political dispensation, under the mantra “Zimbabwe is Open for Business”.
In an interview, Tourism and Hospitality Industry Minister Cde Prisca Mupfumira said she was overwhelmed by the response that in itself was an endorsement of the new political dispensation’s reformist policies.
“I am humbled and overwhelmed by the response. We have never had such a huge response from both our side as exhibitors to the point of bringing 51 companies and our stand hosting hundreds of individuals and companies seeking to do business with us. Our stand was host to 32 companies but we had many others outside the main stand like Africa Sun and Africa Albida Tourism, etc. This is an overwhelming response. It has never happened in the history of Zimbabwe.
“This is a great endorsement for the new dispensation in Zimbabwe and you can see by the excitement our country has generated,” said Cde Mupfumira, who held marathon meetings with potential investors and tourist wholesalers, foreign government officials, buyers and fellow ministers from other countries throughout the days and at times working right into the night, during the exhibition duration.
Zimbabwe Tourism Authority chief executive Dr Karikoga Kaseke said Zimbabwe was back in the world tourism matrix.
“We were finished but we are back and back with a bang. The new political dispensation has made it possible for the industry to be back. We are more than grateful because we were almost getting forgotten as an industry.
“In the past, we found it hard to market the brand Zimbabwe. The new dispensation has changed the investment rules and policies and everyone has turned to Zimbabwe.
“We need to improve on our holding capacity because soon we will struggle to meet demand,” said Dr Kaseke.
Africa Indaba Travel and Tourism Exposition is a prime travel and tourism exhibition where captains of industry, tourist wholesalers, buyers and exhibitors from throughout the world meet annually in th coastal city of Durban and has become the premier meeting place for tourism business over the years.