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BY NKULULEKO SIBANDA / WINSTONE ANTONIO
THE 2019 edition of the Sanganai/Hlanganani World Tourism expo kicked off in Bulawayo yesterday with players in the sector describing it as much better than previous editions.
Tourism Business Council of Zimbabwe (TBCZ) president Paul Matamisa told journalists that this year’s event was an improved affair, commending the organisers, the Zimbabwe Tourism Authority (ZTA) for putting together a successful exhibition.
“We are happy that the expo has started and we are very much gratified that we are finally here for this year’s fair,” Matamisa said.
“We are here to witness a much improved fair than all those that have been held in the past. We are particularly happy because we appreciate that a lot of energy has been put towards what we are going to be witnessing over the next couple of days,” he added.
The expo gives international buyers an opportunity to sample what awaits them in the market.
“Exhibitors here have put out to the international buyers a rare show of the great taste that Zimbabwe’s hospitality has in store for them and we are confident that the buyers will indeed be able to have a great taste of our hospitality and that will be the success of the Sanganai/Hlanganani World Tourism Expo,” he added.
Matamisa added that there was need for players in the tourism sector in the country and international buyers to translate interactions held at Sanganai/Hlanganani into business opportunities.
Speaking at the same briefing, ZTA acting chief executive officer Givemore Chidzidzi revealed that this year’s expo had attracted more than 170 buyers and over 200 exhibitors from within and outside the country.
“We have more than 170 buyers, 290 exhibitors, and over 25 international journalists who represent various source markets who have registered to attend this year’s Sanganai/Hlanganani World Tourism Expo,” he said.
“We still have many other people who have been expressing interest to come through for the expo.”
Chidzidzi added that although former President Robert Mugabe’s death had somehow disturbed preparations for the expo, they were happy that their projections and plans were bearing fruit.
“We are still having people coming in and enquiring saying ‘can we set up our stands’. We have just stopped them because of the tragedy that befell our country in the past days. Just yesterday (Wednesday), we were burying a national hero (Major-General Trust Mugoba) and right now, we are in the middle of another funeral in anticipation of the burial of our former President (Robert Mugabe),” he said.
“This event (Sanganai/Hlanganani), given its stature, obviously was given the clearance that we go ahead because of its international nature, with people already in the country. So we are proceeding and that had actually kind of disturbed the traction in the preparations, but we are glad that we are on course.
“Some exhibitors that had thought that maybe it might not happen, realised that it’s happening and they are coming in, including international buyers.”
Countries such as Germany, Italy, the United States of America, Kenya, Uganda and South Africa, according to Chidzidzi, make up the list of participants at the expo.