SENIOR STAFF WRITER
PRESIDENT Emmerson Mnangagwa last night launched the Visit Zimbabwe Campaign aimed at leveraging on the tourism and sporting sectors to promote the country as a safe and premier tourist destination, the Daily News reports.
This comes as the government recently gave the sector the green light to reopen after a five- month closure owing to the coronavirus (Covid-19) pandemic, with the Finance ministry projecting that the industry would decline by 7,4 percent due to disruptions in travel and tourism.
Addressing delegates during the launch of the campaign at State House in Harare, Mnangagwa said the campaign, spearheaded by the Tourism and Sports ministries, would go a long way in marketing the country on global markets as well as boosting Zimbabwe’s international engagement and re-engagement efforts.
“The advent of the Covid-19 pandemic has had a negative impact on our tourism sector; however, we are determined to resuscitate the sector to surpass our previous tourist arrivals and revenues within the shortest possible time. To this end, my government continues to adopt new strategies to market and promote international tourism among our source markets.
“You may recall that on the 6th of August 2020 I unveiled the National Tourism Recovery and Growth Strategy towards a US$5 billion tourism sector by 2025. The strategy is anchored on Zimbabwe’s vision to be a premier international tourist destination based on the judicious and sustainable exploitation of our unique human and natural resources.
“Today’s event is, therefore, informed by that strategic goal, riding on the partnership between the Zimbabwe national cricket team and the Zimbabwe Tourism Authority. The Visit Zimbabwe Promotion Campaign will see a warm invitation being extended to the world to visit Zimbabwe,” Mnangagwa said.
He added that tourism was one of the critical sectors expected to contribute towards the attainment of an upper-middle economy by 2030.
“The synergy we are seeing today is most welcome and leverages on Zimbabwe’s membership of the International Cricket Council. Hence this campaign being launched ahead of the International Cricket Council T20 World Cup and will see our national cricket team, wherever possible, donning branded regalia inscribed Visit Zimbabwe a World of Wonders.
“Advertising opportunities would thus be availed during the forthcoming tour to Pakistan and other international games by our national cricket team. I challenge the Zimbabwe Tourism Authority, Zimbabwe Parks and Wildlife Authority as well as the National Museums and Monuments, among other agencies, to maximise on the benefits of this Visit Zimbabwe Campaign by unveiling unique products which promote Zimbabwe’s wildlife, natural and cultural heritage,” Mnangagwa said.
He called on the tourism sector and sporting fraternity to be more innovative towards increasing viability and profitability through mutually beneficial partnerships.
“Equally, our cultural creative industries must develop and provide quality music, dance, theatre, poetry and literal works as well as cultural artifacts which depict our rich, unique and diverse Zimbabwean heritage.
“The importance of air connectivity to the tourism sector cannot be over emphasised. In anticipation of increased tourist visitors, plans are underway to speed up the resuscitation of our national carrier, Air Zimbabwe and attraction of more airlines to fly into our country.
“Meanwhile, the upgrading of various air strips throughout the country must be accelerated. The ongoing construction and rehabilitation of our road infrastructure will further enhance internal connectivity.
“The modernisation of ICT systems within our international airports and ports of entry must be continuous to improve efficiencies and convenience to our visitors,” he said.
Sports minister Kirsty Coventry said the Visit Zimbabwe Campaign would leverage on international audiences drawn to cricket matches.
“The men’s ICC Cricket World Cup in 2019 was the most watched cricket event ever with a TV audience of 1,6 billion for live coverage. When Zimbabwe plays bilateral cricket matches they are screened globally and always attract audiences of no less than two million people.
“This is a market that we will be tapping into. As the Chevrons head out to Pakistan we will be assured of TV viewership of around a 100 million people and bigger audiences in the arena. Mindful of the figures and popularity of the game globally I believe the Visit Zimbabwe Campaign will reap huge rewards for us,” Coventry said.