A total of 70 tourists from across the globe, arrived in the country yesterday through South Africa via a temporary crossing point along the Limpopo River to take part in the inaugural Defender challenge in the Greater Mapungubwe Transfrontier Conservation Area (GMTFCA).
The Mega-Park is made up of national parks from Botswana, South Africa and Zimbabwe. During the tour, the visitors from the United Kingdom, Netherlands, Mexico, Ireland and South Africa will leave for Botswana through Mlambaphele Border Post.
During the tour they will experience wildlife and human settlements among other attractions in the tri-nations.
“We are happy with the reception and facilitation by Zimbabwean authorities. Generally, we are a bunch of Landrover enthusiasts from difference countries and each year we have tours appreciating nature in parks across South Africa,” said the event director Mr John Kriek.
“During our last tour which ended in Mapungubwe National Park — South Africa, we were approached by authorities from the three countries to explore a 4 by 4 route.
“We are happy with what we have seen so far. Among the tourists are business executives from overseas and media teams from the leading Landrover magazines.
“This area has a lot of rich history and wildlife which need to be fully exploited to realise its potential for the growth of the three nation’s economies”.
He continued: “We have 31 vehicles and it’s the biggest group which we have heard since we started the tours.
Each person (mostly family) drives their own vehicle. The morale is very high considering that we will be passing through tourism borders among the three countries. As you are aware, accessing this place through the formal border posts is cumbersome”.
He said next year they will hold another event at the Greater Limpopo Transfrontier Conservation area which includes, South Africa, Mozambique and Gonarezhou around the Gonarezhou National Park.
Mr Kriek said they will continue working on a number of products to market Zimbabwe’s Southern Transfrontier conservation areas.
“We are looking at introducing more camping tours and photographic safaris mostly around the Tuli Circle,” he said.
Zimbabwe National Parks spokesperson, Mr Tinashe Farawo, said the event will strengthen the country’s natural resources and active community participation in sustainable development initiatives.
He said the defender tour among other initiatives would go a long way in marketing the Greater Mapungubwe TFCA as a tourism destination of choice.
“Besides promoting human and wildlife management’s issues, such tours create employment for communities within the TFCA in terms of providing ancillary services,” said Mr Farawo.
Zimbabwe Tourism Authority’s (ZTA) Regional Manager — Beitbridge Ms Bertha Mutowembwa, said tourism will continue exploring new products within the TFCA besides waiting for annual events.
“This area is becoming popular with tourists from the region and overs seas markets. Together with other line stakeholders will continue marketing and introducing new products to boost both domestic and international arrivals,” she said.
The Mega Park also plays host to the annual Wildrun (which attracts 100 tourists) and the Tour De Tuli (which attracts 500 visitors).