The country registered a significant milestone in the Tourism Digital Space by launching the AccoLeisure Zimbabwe Travel Guide and the Zimbabwe Destination Video in Harare yesterday.
In line with the Transitional Stabilisation Programme (STP), Priscah Mupfumira, the Minister of Environment, Tourism and Hospitality Industry said the launch was in sync with one of the key deliverables for the sector on aggressively marketing and rebranding Zimbabwe as a must-visit tourist destination.
“This will translate into increased tourist arrivals, which in turn will generate the much needed foreign currency and create employment for our people. To achieve this, it is necessary to invest in digital marketing in the tourism sector. When effectively implemented and supported, digital marketing has the potential to significantly increase tourism’s contribution to the economy,” Mupfumira said in her remarks during the official launch of AccoLeisure Zimbabwe.
Fanwell Murove, one of the brains behind the mobile application, said Accoleisure (Accommodation and Leisure) is a mobile and internet application that provides services to tourists, travellers and revellers to conveniently access.
“It will also help users identify, locate, view, book tickets and make payments for online visa applications. The application will provide immigration services support (in Zimbabwe) via e-visa platforms and access to accommodation facilities, recreational events, resort activities, sports, arts and culture activities, food and beverage outlets. It has a special feature that provides access to emergency services for Sub-Saharan African tourist destination countries,” Murove said.
Zimbabwe has taken positive strides to embrace ICTs in order to position the tourism sector to effectively contribute towards the National Vision as enunciated President Mnangagwa for the country to become middle income country by 2030.
In a bid to make Zimbabwe a destination of choice all over the world, the destination video and the mobile travel application are part of the broader efforts to enhance destination visibility and ensure convenience of travel within the country.
“As more and more destinations open up and invest in tourism development, we are cognizant that we need to do more to attract tourists to Zimbabwe. I am truly delighted to note that our country continues to receive endorsements from many players across the globe as a safe and must visit destination. Lonely Planet, itself a world reputable player in tourism analysis and projections provided evidence of positive destination reviews from the international community, ranking Zimbabwe as “3rd Best in the top 10 countries to visit in 2019”.
“In addition, National Geographic Traveler, one of the world’s leading magazines, has listed Zimbabwe as one of the 19 must-see destinations in the world in 2019. It was placed at number 9, the highest ranking for any African country. Setouchi in Japan topped the list with the next African country being Eritrea at number 12, followed by Kwa-Zulu Natal in South Africa at 13 and Uganda at 16. I therefore have no doubt that in 2018 we will surpass our projection of achieving over 2.5 million visitors to Zimbabwe in 2018, based on the renewed positive image and increased business levels that we have witnessed,” Mupfumira said.
Zimbabwe’s destination competitiveness will be achieved through improvement of access to destination information, connectivity and facilitation. To this end, Government, through the Transitional Stabilisation Program has affirmed its commitment to support innovation and collaborative research among institutions of higher learning in partnership with technology oriented industry to take advantage of opportunities in the digital economy.
“I am pleased to note that the tourism sector has taken this call seriously and has come up with a digital solution to improve destination information access. The digital revolution has changed the way destinations are marketed across the globe. Tourists are better connected now than ever before and this has put increasing demand on the need to provide high quality content to satisfy the needs of these potential tourists.”
Online statistics have shown that globally, tourists are now using smartphones to explore destinations and products. Mobile apps account for 37% of travellers shopping for flights and 43% for accommodation. It has also been noted that 90% of all travel is searched online and travel decisions are based on reviews of other travellers.
“In light of these developments ladies and gentlemen, it is important for Zimbabwe as a destination to have its own mobile application showcasing tourism products and services. I applaud the Zimbabwe Tourism Authority and its technology partner AccoLeisure Pvt Ltd for developing the Zimbabwe Travel Guide. This application sets out to bridge the information gap between tourists and service providers and will go a long way in making Zimbabwe facilities visible to the world all the time.
“I would like to urge all stakeholders especially tourism service providers to give their full support to this initiative for it to be a success. Related to this, is the need to have fresh and exciting destination content. Zimbabwe is richly endowed with tourism attractions but these have remained unknown. Full utilisation of the ICTs will transform tourism information access and in the process increase tourism arrivals,” Mupfumira added.