Africa: Zimbabwe eyes Middle East tourist market
Zimbabwe has generated a lot of interest as a tourist destination since the election of its new president, CDE E. D. Mnangagwa, in November last year.
This saw the proclamation by the President “Zimbabwe is open for business”. True to his intonation, the president has emphasised that economics and trade cooperation rather than politics would be his priority in order to catch up with the region.
The tourism industry in Zimbabwe has taken heed in re-engaging the international markets, pushing the Zimbabwe tourism brand and Zimbabwe is open for tourism philosophy. The Minister of Tourism and Hospitality Industry, Priscah Mupfumira has led delegations to South Africa, UK and Germany, reengaging the travel and tourism industry worldwide with the same message. Following those missions, the Middle East is the next key market firmly targeted by Zimbabwe for engagement.
In an effort to increase arrivals from the Asian and Middle East markets the minister has led a tourism delegation to Dubai to attend the Arabian Travel Market (ATM), the Middle East’s largest tourism exhibition, taking place from April 22-25. During the show, the minister is set to meet with strategic decision makers including leading tour operators, airlines and other government officials.
Whilst the Middle East is full of potential, Zimbabwe has not invested much in destination marketing in this region in a long time and the visit by the minister will help open this huge lucrative market for the country.
Tourist arrivals have increased from a mere 657 in 2003 to 3,148 in 2004 and only reached a peak in 2009 when 10,077 tourist arrivals were recorded. In 2017 the country recorded 7,537 arrivals, a 58 per cent increase from 4,783 arrivals recorded in 2016.
Zimbabwe is now ready for the Middle East market, where access from Dubai is through Emirates, Kenya Airways, Rwanda Air, South African Airways and Ethiopian Airways. The destination offers a wide range of luxury accommodation options for the Middle East market ranging from city hotels, lodges and tented camps across the country. The country has a variety of activities that suit different market segments from thoughtful to soft adventure for all ages. Bungee jumping, white water rafting, zip lining, rhino trekking and mountain climbing are some of the adrenaline activities Zimbabwe has to offer, while bird watching, horse riding, sunset cruises and visiting rock art sites are just some of the soft activities to be enjoyed.
The Zimbabwe brand, Zimbabwe A World of Wonders, encapsulates the unique selling point of the country – the seven wonders of Zimbabwe, which include: Our Wonderful People and Culture, Rich History and Heritage; Great Zimbabwe The Grand Medieval Palace; The Majestic Victoria Falls; Pristine Wildlife and Nature; The Mystique of the Eastern Highlands; The Mythical Lake Kariba and the Mighty Zambezi.
Zimbabwe boasts the continent’s finest natural attractions, wildlife, rich conservation areas and cultural attractions. Among the natural attractions is the majestic awe-inspiring Victoria Falls, with its furious collage of sound, colour and earth-shaking movement, which is also one of the seven natural wonders of the world. Victoria Falls, locally known as the Mosi-oa-Tunya (translated to the smoke that thunders), is a unique destination which draws tourists from all over the world to see this wonder.
Zimbabwe’s national parks also offer an experience unlike any other and are home to 100 species of mammals, 400 bird species and some 1,000 tree and shrub varieties. However, there is much more to Zimbabwe than the natural beauty of its landscapes and national parks. It is also a land of culture and hospitality. Its cultural diversity ranges from music and dance to food and festivals which are all a source of fascination for visitors.
Zimbabwe is also home to a Unesco World Heritage Site – the ruined city of Great Zimbabwe – which is a national monument from which the country takes its present day name and is one of Zimbabwe’s greatest architectural features. Once home to as many as 20,000 people, the ruined city is made up of conical towers, columns and meandering stone walls at least 5 meters high.
It is highly anticipated that the new image created by the new political dispensation will go a long way towards building confidence about destination Zimbabwe and will enhance an increase in tourist arrivals and investments in the near future, with the Middle East earmarked as a key region to help Zimbabwe achieve these goals.
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