The fair, which runs up to Saturday at the Zimbabwe International Exhibition Centre, has become a permanent feature on Zimbabwe’s tourism calendar.
It showcases a wide variety of Africa’s best tourism products, and attracts international visitors and media from across the world.
A snap survey by NewsDay yesterday revealed that some of the exhibitors were still setting up their stands, while others had already started entertaining visitors.
However, exhibitors who spoke to NewsDay said even though the business was low on the first day, they remained optimistic of making good business.
“We are looking forward to get new contacts and buyers. We also expect the fair to benefit us in terms of marketing Zimbabwe and Zambia as we support each other,” a Zambian-based Going Places Tours and Travel managing director, Rachel Ward said.
Another exhibitor, Cresta Hotels sales and marketing manager Leonard Nyamutsamba said the fair would open more opportunities for Zimbabwe as a country as well as businesses since international buyers were gracing it.
Emqameni Lodge co-director Marceline Chiomvu said the fair gives them opportunity to advertise themselves.
“It puts us on the local and global market. From this fair, we hope to be known by international buyers and we are expecting that our room occupancy will increase in the future,” she said.
Other exhibitors like Southern Comfort Lodge White Rock Events expected the fair to widen their market share, both locally and globally.
My Guest’s Friend exhibitor Adrian Fairbairn said they were very happy to be in Bulawayo and they were looking forward to clinch more deals with lodges and hotels in the country.
Intwasa Arts Festival koBulawayo festival administrator, Runyararo Mutandi, urged organisers of the fair to advertise it immensely to attract large numbers of people.
”For now business is low, but we hope it will get better. I think the public was not well aware of it. However, we are expecting to meet with potential partners so that we can collaborate with them,” she said.
Meanwhile, Bulawayo will be hosting Sanganai/Hlanganani for the next two years as part of efforts to stimulate growth tourism in the Matabeleland region, Zimbabwe Tourism Authority chief executive Karikoga Kaseke has said.
Addressing journalists during a pre-Sanganai Press conference on Wednesday, Kaseke said tourism in the southern parts of the country was dying and needed a lifeline.
“Most of the lodges in Bulawayo are better than the hotels in this region and 95% of them are owned by women in tourism. One of the aims to host the expo 3 years in a row in Bulawayo is to boost underutilised the facilities in the region,” he said.
“We brought Sanganai to Bulawayo primarily as part of our efforts to revive this region’s tourism economy, the tourism in this region is in very bad shape.”
According to Kaseke, the 2016 edition of Sanganai has seen a total of 236 companies exhibiting at the fair, indicating an increase from last year’s where 128 companies exhibited. Out of the 236 companies exhibiting this year, 35 companies are coming from 11 foreign countries.
“We want to see what the tourism economy will be looking at after three years. I am very confident if the strategies we are trying to implement for this region work, that the tourism economy will be booming and the current problems we are facing will be a thing of the past,” he said.