By Byron Mutingwende
The Zimbabwe Tourism Authority (ZTA) looks forward to use the recent award it won as an opportunity to market the country as a safe tourist destination to Europe and the entire world.
Karikoga Kaseke, the ZTA Chief Executive revealed that in his address to the media following the unveiling of the awards he and the organization won at the European Business Assembly.
The European tourism powerhouse recognised ZTA as the “Best Enterprise in the field of Tourism promotion” while Kaseke was voted one of the best “Managers of the Year” on 6 October 2017.
The award was received by the Ambassador of the Republic of Zimbabwe to France, Her Excellency Rudo Chitiga on behalf of the ZTA and the Chief Executive at a colourful ceremony attended by executives from 40 countries in the French resort town of Cannes.
“We will take these awards to the World Travel Market to be held in the United Kingdom early November. We will explain to the European market and the entire world how we won the award so as to influence a positive perception of the country as a safe and wonderful destination,” Kaseke said.
The Europe Business Assembly (EBA) is an independent corporation of economic, social and humanitarian collaboration, founded in Oxford, UK in 2000 whose main mission main is to form a positive image of the regions, companies and personalities in the European business community. EBA is an interactive platform for adapting European economic programs to the standards of living in dynamically developing regions. It follows the directives of the European Union and EU programmes “Good-neighbourliness” and “Eastern partnership”.
The Zimbabwe Tourism Authority was recognised for its demonstration of a high performance culture and effectiveness, its vision and leadership, innovation, creativity, professionalism and exceptional managerial skills.
The innovation and creativity within the ZTA emanates from realising how difficult it was to market and promote destination Zimbabwe given the perceptions that exist in the different source markets.
“My organisation had to be more imaginative as well as innovative in coming up with strategies that are outside the usual to market the destination. This is how we came up with such programmes as the perception management and destination image transformation programmes, which through our leadership as an NTO were embraced by the entire nation and adopted by many a destination as effective marketing tools.
“It is within these programmes that Zimbabwe has over the past decade hosted many opinion leaders; among them top music artists, sportsperson and teams as well as media to mention but a few opinion leaders and shapers,” Kaseke said.
One of the functions of ZTA is to attract investment into the tourism sector and the country in general. Guided by the principle visit, trade and invest, the organization is the first step in attracting investment into the country across all sectors.
Kaseke said within the same sense, the Zimbabwe Tourism Authority realised how festivals and mega events contributed to the marketing efforts of destinations such as Brazil and the Caribbean countries, Seychelles, South Africa and many others. A decision was thus made to introduce the carnival concept to Zimbabwe, which was a foreign idea.
He paid tribute to the Government of Zimbabwe for allowing ZTA to dream about this new concept and allowing it to realise that dream.
“We embarked on a study of this socio-cultural and marketing tool that has become a powerful economy on its own in different countries. From as early as 2010 we deployed each other to different carnivals and festivals to learn from the best: Rio and Sao Paulo (Brazil), Abuja, Calabar and Lagos (Nigeria), Cape Town and Johannesburg (South Africa), the Seychelles, Nottinghill (London). We then conceptualised our own Zimbabwe International Carnival and hosted the first edition in 2013.
“Of course we had to adapt the concept to fit into our own otherwise extremely conservative and closed culture taking what is relevant for us under the rubric “Celebrating our diversity”. In line with our vision for the carnival to be a significant contributor to our national economy we dubbed it the biggest street party in Africa and we are glad to say it has become just that.”
The 2017 edition of the Harare International Carnival raised the bar for the events industry in Zimbabwe through the high technology used at the event. In trying to get Zimbabwe ready for International Mega Events there is need to embrace high tech requirements including the use of Information Communication Technologies in events planning, promotion and management.
Highly professional staff that is totally empowered to make decisions in their respective areas of responsibilities mans the Zimbabwe Tourism Authority.
“Guided by the core values: Teamwork, Results-Driven, Innovation, Professionalism and Service Culture as we strive to attain our vision: We shall be known as the most dynamic National Tourism Organisation that changed the face of tourism in Zimbabwe.
“We also believe that national events such as the Harare International Carnival can only succeed through collaborative efforts with relevant partners and stakeholders. In this regard the ZTA partnered other players from both the public and private sectors to ensure the success of the event,” Kaseke said.
He added it was a great honour for Zimbabwe and the Zimbabwe Tourism Authority to be recognised by the Socrates Almanac Editorial Board, Oxford, UK).
“When we do our work little do we realise that even the outside world will be observing us just as much as our principals. We are extremely humbled by this development and especially coming from a European based organisation. The award is a serious endorsement of our destination and will assist us in our marketing efforts,” Kaseke said.