TRANSPORT costs for country tours are more expensive than those obtained in neighbouring countries inhibiting Zimbabwe’s efforts to lure tourists, industry players said last week.
BY NDAMU SANDU
Zimbabwe has intensified efforts to lure tourists into the country riding on the stability of the political and economic environment.
Tourism players told Standardbusiness on the sidelines of ITB 2013, a travel and tourism fair, that the bulk of the concerns received centred on transport costs.
Players said some German tour operators had packaged around the country trips to tourists attractions such as Hwange, Masvingo, Matopos, Kariba and Mana Pools but the packages have no takers due to the high transport costs.
“The main hindrance is transport costs. It’s more expensive to do a trip around Zimbabwe than the whole of South Africa because of transport, not accommodation costs,” an operator said.
For a country that is set to co-host the United Nations World Tourism Organisation General Assembly meeting with Zambia, the turnout at the fairby Zimbabween exhibitors, was low moreso when the Zimbabwe Tourism Authority (ZTA) paid for all the exhibition costs.
The tourism industry was not represented in other areas. Visitors to the Zimbabwean stand inquired about local tour operators and travel agencies to do some business with and regrettably the two sectors were missing in action.
As a result, European tour operators could not find their Zimbabwean counterparts to do business.
Under normal circumstances a foreign tour operator will work with a local one which would do all the leg work: looking for accommodation, activities; and airfares among others.
As Zimbabwean tour operators were unavailable, foreign tour operators had to do business with Namibian and South African players.
Foreign tour operators also raised concern over the air access to Victoria Falls where it is difficult to get seats in July, August and September.
“You can get five when you have a group of 50”.
The travel fair began on Wednesday and ends today.
Tour operators snub travel fair
Sugar Chagonda, ZTA spokesperson, said that the absence of tour operators at the travel fair was an issue of concern, adding that this was one of the reasons why the authority will engage all stakeholders.
“We will continue to engage them [tour operators] with a view of bringing them on board. Marketing a destination would be incomplete without service providers,” Chagonda said.
Chagonda said ZTA exempted exhibitors from paying the exhibition fees as a way of encouraging more players and only 11 companies responded.
He said Germany is one of Zimbabwe’s leading source markets “and we need to look seriously into that market”.