By Vimbai Kamoyo
BULAWAYO – The Minister of state for Bulawayo Metropolitan Province has urged the government and tourism players to market attractions in Bulawayo and Matabeleland provinces aggressively.
Speaking during the second leg of the consultative conference for tourism sector strategy, organised by the Ministry of Tourism and Hospitality Industry together with the Zimbabwe Tourism Authority (ZTA), Minister Angeline Masuku said Bulawayo and Matabeleland provinces have tourism fascinations that can add value to the sector.
“We have everything. It might look like Bulawayo and Matabeleland have nothing but with the support of the government we can go far.
“I wish to make a clarion call to the Ministry of Tourism and Hospitality Industry, to ensure that in this strategic session, special attention is placed on the need to promote several cultural festivals that promote the culture and heritage of the people of Bulawayo. These include among others the Intwasa Festival, which has not reached the greater heights we want it to, as a platform for locals to display their local culture in music and dance to national and international interest tourists.
“I (also) wish to make a blaring call for a robust marketing strategy of Bulawayo as a Tourism Destination which will ensure that we identify our Unique Tourism Products such as the Natural Museum, The Old Bulawayo Cultural Village, the Nalatale Monuments, Matopos, among others and market them vigorously, locally and abroad. I therefore wish to highlight to the Ministry of Tourism and Hospitality Industry here present and the Zimbabwe Tourism Authority that they still have a lot more work to ensure destination Zimbabwe is known, and is known in its entirety. Zimbabwe undeniably is endowed with many tourist attractions such as Victoria Falls, Kariba, Matopos and Great Zimbabwe which yearly attracts hordes of tourists
“These places are well known and well marketed. However, we have little known yet magnificent attractions all over Zimbabwe. In Gwanda, I am made aware that there is Lumene Falls near Mtshabezi Dam, though largely undeveloped has huge potential for water based activities. There is also the wonderful Nsimbi cave where the San lived several years ago and is 200 meters long and 50 metres deep but is rarely talked of,’’ said resident minister Masuku.
The ZTA Chief Executive Karikoga Kaseke weighed in saying it was high time the sector had a strategic document that guides its operations as it was operating haphazardly.
“Did we have a strategy as the tourism sector? The truth is no. We did not have, so it is imperative that that we have one. As it stands now we are operating rudderless. This should come through widespread consultations as we are doing now. We need input from various stakeholders. Last week Thursday we were in Harare and on Thursday this week we will be in Victoria Falls. The strategy is led by the government and driven by private players. It cannot be a one man band as one former minister suggested,” said Kaseke with a direct dig on former tourism minister Walter Mzembi.
During his tenure as minister responsible for tourism, Mzembi often bragged that he had a vision to make the sector contribute 5 billion to the national fiscus.
Meanwhile, the mayor for Bulawayo City Council (BBC) councilor Martin Moyo challenged tourism players in the country’s second largest city to come up with packages that are attractive and sellable, inferring there were few of those presently.
“I want to challenge the tourism players in the city to come up with a variety of packages so as to attract the market. Last week I was challenged by a billionaire to show him interesting areas for two hours and I could not. You therefore have pull up your socks if you want to be relevant,” said Councillor Moyo.