Harness localized advantages to develop tourism: expert

By Tawanda Musariri in Bulawayo

Players in the tourism industry have been urged to wield the local natural advantages to develop a unique tourism product that attracts consumers.

The call was made during a conference that brought together academics and practitioners in the industry during the 12th edition of the Sanganayi/Hlanganani Tourism Expo at the Zimbabwe International Trade Fair in Bulawayo on Wednesday.

Delivering the keynote address before delegates and presenters, tour operator and researcher, Professor Dr Ruhet Genç of Turkish German University said, “Particularly considering the landlocked geography of Zimbabwe, the country lacks the possibility of the traditional 3S tourism, which includes sun, sand and sea. Therefore the country needs to innovatively use its cultural richness, natural beauties, food history authenticity and so forth, as a magnet to lure tourists in the destination.

“Cultural heritage of a country offers a lot for its innovativeness in the tourism sector. In other terms, the source of innovation should be the existing endowments of Zimbabwe. Many studies in the tourism studies focus on the authenticity of destinations, and Zimbabwe has a special placement in this context, since Africa has always been standing there as a place to be explored by people living in other parts of the world.”

Prof Genç, however, further encouraged the tourism players to make use of the advantages with a coterie of innovations so as to build the uniqueness expected of a product worth the attention of a tourist.

Turning to the fluidity on the tourism market, Prof Genç said, “Due to ever-changing needs in the market, the needs of tourists will be changing over the years and Zimbabwean tourism services must adapt themselves to these changes in order to maintain their presence in the global tourism market.

Tourism is a major national earner and significantly contributes to the Gross National Product with the year 2018 having seen in excess of 2.5 million visitors. Projections are pointing to a growth of the arrivals.

The conference was graced by the Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Environment, Tourism and Hospitality, Munesuishe Munodawafa, Acting CEO of the Zimbabwe Tourism Authority, Givemore Chidzidzi, top players from the industry’s value chain and academics. Researchers from Lupane State University topped the scholars list. The Zimbabwe Tourism Authority bankrolled the conference.