BULAWAYO – Zimbabwe Tourism Authority (ZTA) has said the international media should not be alarmist about the situation in Zimbabwe, hence challenged those attending the ongoing Sanganai/Hlanganani Tourism Expo to give an independent assessment during their stay in the country.
ZTA chief executive Karikoga Kaseke challenged the 33 international journalists covering the tourism fair to get first-hand experience of the country and report the truth as they see it.
“They (international media) have created the impression that you can’t land in Zimbabwe and if you happen to do that you will be landing in bloodshed from the airport to the runaway through immigration. That has been the impression created for this nation.”
The ZTA boss said the image of Zimbabwe in most cases was negative but this is largely perspective.
“I don’t want to say there is nothing happening in Zimbabwe. From a tourism point of view, we want to talk about the peace that is prevailing in the country — there is a lot of talk on the political arena but that has nothing to do with tourism.
“Tourists come and leave this country unscathed regardless of what you read in the newspapers. Those are issues that we go through but they are not related to tourism,” he said.
The international journalists will join their local counterparts in covering three-day tourism fair, which kicked off yesterday and ends on Saturday.
It will be officially opened by Vice President Phelekezela Mphoko today.
Meanwhile, Kaseke allayed fears about the cash crisis bedevilling the country and told buyers and participants at this year’s edition of the expo that the central bank was addressing the problem.
“The Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe governor (John Mangudya) has requested to meet you on Saturday. He knows about this (financial) problem — it’s a passing phase that hit us some few weeks ago and we are going through it. He is telling me that it’s already over,” Kaseke said.
The ZTA boss told the visitors and buyers that they would be able to access their cash through ATM machines in Bulawayo.
“I went to CBZ at an ATM with my international Visa card and found cash. It’s there, if you do not find cash, something is wrong with your visa card.”
Kaseke said 236 exhibitors have confirmed participation, up from 128 exhibitors last year while 35 foreign companies are exhibiting, representing 11 countries.
A total of 128 buyers are participating at this year’s expo, an increase from last year’s 111.
The international buyers are from China, United States of America, Netherlands, Germany, Turkey and Switzerland.
There are also a series of workshops and meetings lined up during the Sanganai/Hlanganani period where stakeholders in the tourism sector will discuss issues that affect the growth and development of the industry.
The city is set to host the country’s flagship tourism expo, the tourism expo, for the next three years.