THE Zimbabwe Tourism Authority (ZTA) is working on consolidating and further expanding its global market share through perception management by continuously engaging international media in its destination marketing drive.
ln the past, false media reports have stifled the country’s economic turnaround efforts through scaring away arrivals and potential investors.
However, the Second Republic’s re-engagement strategy as well as the “Zimbabwe is Open for Business” policy has worked wonders in various economic sectors, tourism included.
So far, the country has reclaimed most of its market share in tourism as interest in destination Zimbabwe has been renewed.
International re-engagements, particularly in major source markets in Europe and Asia, have yielded encouraging results.
ln 2018, arrivals from Europe increased by 11 percent to end the year at 70 440. Those from Asia improved by 25 percent to 79 858.
Going into 2019, Zimbabwe was voted the third tourist destination of choice after Sri Lanka and Germany. This is according to Lonely Planet, a top Australian travel publication.
Lonely Planet also acknowledges Zimbabwe’s attractive scenery as well as her people’s friendliness.
ZTA head of corporate affairs, Godfrey Koti stressed the need to push for more growth through perception management.
He said the forthcoming 12th edition of Sanganai/Hlanganani will be a perfect platform to engage international media.
The annual premier travel expo runs from September 12 to 14 in Bulawayo at the Zimbabwe International Exhibition Centre.
Over 250 local and international exhibitors from countries such as India, China, the United Kingdom, Ghana, Namibia, Malawi, Botswana, Mauritius, South Africa and Angola, among others, have since confirmed participation.
ZTA is also expecting about 150 buyers to be part of proceedings in Bulawayo.
Twelve international journalists will cover the expo while 13 more drawn from Europe, Asia and Africa are expected.
“Exhibitors include accommodation providers, tour operators, airlines, car rentals, tertiary institutions, tourist boards, embassies as well as publicity associations. They have already confirmed their participation,” said Koti.
“Europe is a big market and we are facing challenges of perception.
“lt needs to be addressed.
“It is our view that by inviting media from that side as well as other places to experience Zimbabwe first hand, we will achieve a lot in terms of managing perceptions,” he reckoned.
“After the visit, they will be able to write from an informed point of view.
“The international media will, as per tradition, be taken on destination familiarisation trips to sample our products. However, please note that our engagement with foreign media will not end with Sanganai, it is an ongoing thing.”
Koti said preparations for this year’s edition of the fair are on course.
ZTA’s acting executive director national conventional bureau, Pauline Ndlovu said:
“There is great anticipation from the international media houses. We will be hosting five of them,” said Ndlovu.
This year’s edition is running under the theme ‘Promoting peace through tourism’.
Sanganai/Hlanganani is the successor of Shanyai/Vakatshani, the Zimbabwe International Travel Expo (ZITE) that was previously held annually at the Harare International Conference Centre.
ZITE started as a small expo in 1982. Over the years, it grew to become one of Africa’s leading tourism showcases.
By Prince Mushawevato