Little did they know, they were waking up a sleeping giant. Bringing international artistes has utterly become the business of the day for a number of promoters. Each one on average this year has brought at least two while some have brought as many as three.
But what is irking is that somehow, whoever is now involved in bringing these artistes, most of whom are Jamaican nationals, has managed to alienate the ZTA, whose brainchild it was to bring foreign performing atristes. Maybe rightly so; considering the amount of confusion that institution puts into the industry.
The question now is whether or not it is proper for ZTA to create such an initiative and then stand aloof while individuals bring artistes on their own for a different reason. Anyone who is bringing a foreign artiste today is doing it for the money but they are not fitting into the model for which purpose it was crafted.
The perception management programme should ideally be one that is all inclusive, taking all citizens on board. It should be managed in such a way that there are consultations before any artiste is brought into the country and what the country at large benefits from the visit should be explained.
If we are marketing Zimbabwe what is the logic that an artiste comes here and goes back to their homeland without visiting Gonarezhou National Park? What is the rationale that we boast of the majestic Victoria Falls yet Akon came and went without visiting the resort area? Is it the best that we can do, that an artiste who lives a lavish life in their home country comes and is booked at the Meikles Hotel and not at a resort?
The resort is the heritage of Zimbabwe, which is the same concept that everyone is trying to sell. What needs to be marketed is not the hotel that everyone, anywhere in the world knows about. And likewise; it should be mandatory that whenever an artiste comes to Zimbabwe they visit at least one of the resort areas. In essence; what this writer is implying is that the goals of bringing these international artistes are now misplaced.
Is there anything that Sean Paul is going to say about Binga in his homeland when he was holed-up in the Meikles hotel? Can Mr Vegas surely go back to Jamaica and report seeing a rhino when he was being treated to a five star experience at the Rainbow Towers?
If Kaseke and company had made it a point that they engaged these promoters and crafted a policy that would rotate resorts where visiting artistes would stay, then the task of promoting Zimbabwe would have been a lot easier.
The visiting artistes must be told the reason for them to come to Zimbabwe is not just to fatten their pockets, which they will do eventually, but for them to tell others what Zimbabwe offers when they go back home. Any artiste is bound to have lasting memories about the Victoria Falls. Similarly, they will have a memorable experience once they visit the Great Zimbabwe.
They are used to hotels; even better ones so to say. So why not hold their hand into the jungle they have only experienced on Discovery Channel and give them the real Zimbabwean experience?
The perception is surely not going to change, until Kaseke and company realise they need to market the real Zimbabwe and not the imposed town life. Until that happens, Zimbabwe will forever be an alien to its target market.