Zim must fully exploit tourism carnival

HARARE - Zimbabwe stands to benefit economically if she properly exploits the immense opportunities that could come with the forthcoming Harare International Festival of Arts (Hifa) and the inaugural Zimbabwe International Carnival.

Hifa has proved its worth over the years as some oasis of hope and positivity even during the not-so-distant period of economic and political upheaval that rocked Zimbabwe.

Amidst all the political and economic chaos — most of it self-inflicted — Hifa showed Zimbabweans including our selfish breed of politicians, countless possibilities we can tap into as a country.

Hifa, which descends on Harare between 30 April and 5 May, deserves to be applauded for the way it has projected a very positive face of Zimbabwe much more than our government.

The inaugural Zimbabwe International Carnival, whose climax will be on Africa Day, potentially looks like another exciting window of opportunity for Zimbabwe. According to Zimbabwe Tourism Authority (ZTA) chief executive officer, Karikoga Kaseke, carnivals have proved their worth as essential destination marketing tools in many tourism source markets.

Kaseke believes Zimbabwe can reap numerous downstream social and economic benefits in the same manner Brazil has.

The South American nation, which is helping Zimbabwe prepare for her first carnival, hosts its carnival in Sao Paulo. The city’s five nights of parades involving almost 120 000 people attracts 30 000 tourists generating approximately $256 million in income.

Zimbabwe, given stunted economic growth we are experiencing, badly needs huge tourist inflows to boost efforts to get back to our former status as an African economic powerhouse.

But this is  only possible if we properly identify and exploit the various opportunities that will be stimulated by these two international events.

The interesting part is that Hifa and the Zimbabwe International Carnival are critical dress rehearsals for the bigger United Nations World Tourism organisation (UNWTO) Summit that the country will co-host in August with neighbouring Zambia.

Zimbabwe cannot afford to let such a once-in-a-lifetime summit like UNWTO just go by. That is why we are disturbed by reports of discord in government over the funding of UNWTO.

It is important for government to mobilise resources in any way it can to ensure that we not only show a positive face to the international community but also reap the attendant benefits that will accrue.

With the country set to host these three international events, there is need to nip in the bud the recurrence of political violence which will undermine the country’s efforts to lure tourists in their thousands. - Staff Writer

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