By Roberta Katunga
ZIMBABWE has extended its Look East Policy through a tourism development initiative that has seen the Zimbabwe Tourism Authority signing a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the Pacific Asian Travel Association (Pata).
Zimbabwe, according to Pata chief of staff Mr Dale Lawrence, becomes the first African state to sign a MoU membership with the association, marking a new direction for Pata which initially only admitted members from their direct area of operation.
“When Pata was formed the objective was to support travel to, from and within the Pata geographical area of the Pacific and Asia. The admission of Zimbabwe as the first African member is in line with the mandate to support travel from the Pata area to that country,” said Mr Lawrence during the signing ceremony in Bulawayo on Friday.
Mr Lawrence described Zimbabwe as a destination that offers a diverse range of tourism activities that caters for all age groups.
He said Zimbabwe was looking to the East as she seeks to boost its numbers in international visitors with the Pacific Asian region becoming the engine of growth for global tourism.
“The Asian Pacific region has an unprecedented level of growth in outbound travel with most countries like India and Thailand as well as other countries looking for new exciting destinations in the African region,” Mr Lawrence said.
Speaking on the benefits that Zimbabwe will enjoy as a member of Pata, Mr Lawrence said the association was Zimbabwe’s gateway to the potential lucrative Chinese market as well as having the opportunity to access a wealth of data, research and industry forecast.
“Zimbabwe will also have direct involvement with the association’s trade shows and events and will have numerous chances to speak at travel industry conferences. We are in the process of persuading tourists to get away from popular cities and visit other destinations that offer similar interesting attractions,” he said.