ZIMBABWE is ruing the missed opportunity to showcase what it offers ahead of the United Nations World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO) General Assembly mee-ting in August after failing to capitalise on the world’s leading travel fair that ended on Sunday in Germany.
Report by Ndamu Sandu
Zimbabwe and Zambia are co-hosting the event from August 24 to 29.
While the official line has been that Zimbabwe and Zambia are ready for the UNWTO meeting, there was nothing to show for it at the International Tourism Bourse (ITB), the must-attend show for serious tourism operators.
ITB is hosted annually by Germany which is the number one generating country in terms of traffic. It is the number one source market in terms of expenditure.
At its peak, Zimbabwe used to receive 70 000 German tourists per year.
While the banners showcased Zimbabwe as a world of wonders, there was nothing on display about the UNWTO meeting, the second time that such an event had been held in Africa.
What this means is that Zimbabwe has to go to the member countries of the UNWTO, a tall figure considering the cash constraints of the inclusive government.
Zimbabwe’s delegation was not as strong as it should have been, with senior government officials missing.
Tourism minister Walter Mzembi was absent attending the African Travel Association, where he is the president.
Permanent secretary in the ministry, Margaret Sangarwe joined the delegation during the course of the meeting as she had come in for another engagement at ITB.
Zimbabwe only had 11 exhibitors, a mockery considering that companies had been invited to exhibit for free.
In the past, the Zimbabwe Tourism Authority (ZTA) wo-uld pay for a stand and then charge companies.