Let us use the carnival profitably

HARARE - The Harare International Carnival, which will reach a climax tomorrow with a colourful street party in the Zimbabwean capital city, needs serious investment and planning for it to become a genuine destination-marketing tool.

While organisers of the carnival have to be lauded for putting together the event on a shoestring budget, the truth of the matter is that we can only draw in foreign tourists in big numbers if we invest heavily in the creation of a truly unique carnival.

Elsewhere in this paper, Brazilian ambassador to Zimbabwe, Marcia Maro Da Silva, underscores the fact that Zimbabwe will only attract significant numbers of foreign tourists if we create an exceptional event that doesn’t imitate other people’s carnivals.

We cannot afford to ignore the Brazilian ambassador’s advice given the fact she hails from a country that generates billions annually from tourists that visit the giant South American country each year for its famous carnivals.

The Carnival in Rio de Janeiro, which takes place annually in the second largest city in Brazil, is regarded as the biggest festival in the world which attracts two million people per day on the streets.

This year’s edition of the Carnival in Rio de Janeiro reportedly attracted 918 000 foreigners who injected more than $730 million into the local economy. 

Zimbabwe can also come up with its own figures with a capacity to breathe a new lease of life into Zimbabwe’s tottering economy.

The colourful Brazilian carnivals, according to Marcia Maro Da Silva, owe their success to the fact that they truly reflect Brazilian culture and ethos.

If we are genuinely determined to make the Harare International Carnival a big attraction for foreign tourists, then we have no choice but to re-look at the concept of our budding carnival.

We have to come up with a carnival that is based on our diverse and rich culture. For example, this country has several unique dances that are showcased each year during the Chibuku Neshamwari Traditional Dance Festival.

The showcasing of these truly Zimbabwean traditional dances will no doubt create an event different from other carnivals held in other countries throughout the world.

Tourists will only flock to our carnival if they know that they will witness a uniquely Zimbabwean carnival. There is no way foreign visitors can come in their thousands to a poor imitation of Brazilian carnivals.

The creation of a world-class carnival, though, demands huge investments from our government which instructed the Zimbabwe Tourism Authority to come up with the initiative.

There is no point in holding a poorly-funded carnival which will have no positive bearing on the economy.  A poorly-conceived carnival is just as good as nothing at all.

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