Bianca Mlilo Business Reporter
THIS year’s Sanganai/Hlanganani Tourism Expo hangs in the balance as the government is yet to release funding for the event that is a month away, an official said yesterday.
The 2016 edition of Sanganai/Hlanganani is slated for the Zimbabwe International Exhibition Centre in Bulawayo from June 16 to 18.
Last year, the government directed the Zimbabwe Tourism Authority (ZTA) to move the tourism expo to Bulawayo starting this year.
This followed reports that 10 foreign exhibitors from the 2015 Sanganai/Hlanganani expo held at the Harare International Conference Centre failed to participate due to shortage of space.
“Sadly, despite all the excitement and enthusiasm among our people, local and international exhibitors, the event now hangs in balance.
“In short, Sanganai/Hlanganani expo might not see the light of day due to lack of funding by the government,” said ZTA chief executive officer Karikoga Kaseke at a press conference in Bulawayo yesterday.
He said people were making frantic efforts to get ready for the event but the lack of resources could become a serious menace to the event.
ZTA is targeting 180 exhibitors and 185 buyers at this year’s expo.
He said: “It’s important to note that the government has funded this show since inception. If this is to happen (non-funding), it will be unfortunate and a devastating blow on tourism in this country.”
Kaseke said all their competitors in Sadc and beyond are funded by their governments adding that their South African counterparts received about $125 million for their tourism indaba which was held last week.
He said they had requested about $450,000 from the government.
He also said the Ministry of Finance and Economic Development is yet to release funding for ZTA’s participation at the South Africa Tourism Indaba and thus the authority still owes the neighbouring country money which has to be paid in full in one month.
Kaseke did not disclose the amount ZTA owes for participating at the indaba.
“We’ve already engaged the Ministry of Finance and had a good meeting with Minister Patrick Chinamasa to discuss among other issues the need to fund must-attend shows including the tourism indaba,” he said.
“He agreed to our request but unfortunately the indaba wasn’t funded and to date we haven’t received anything from the government coffers on Sanganai. It’s a sorry state as this is negatively affecting our preparations for the expo.”
Sanganai/Hlanganani World Tourism Expo is one of Africa’s premier fairs, aimed at bringing international buyers and exhibitors under one roof and showcases the widest variety of the continent’s best tourism products, and attracts international visitors and media from across the world.