Nigerian tour agents to explore Zim

HARARE - The Zimbabwe Tourism Authority (ZTA) in conjunction with Kenyan Airways and the tourism industry will be hosting a group of high profile tour agents from Nigeria on a familiarisation tour of Zimbabwe.

Seven tour operators participate in this familiarisation and will tour Matopos, Hwange and Victoria Falls from March 11-16, 2018.

ZTA chief executive Karikoga Kaseke expressed excitement at the trip citing the potential of the Nigerian market being tied to its huge population.

“We are happy to receive the Nigerian tour operators so that they can sample our product, which product we are confident will impress them to package and bring in the Nigerians. Naturally we are attracted to their numbers, with a growing population of 188 million with a rapidly growing youth population who are seeking adventure outside their borders, we can tap into their outbound tourism and realise growth in our own tourism cake,” he said.

Nigeria is reportedly the highest consumer market in Africa. Presently arrivals to Zimbabwe from Nigeria had decreased by 25 percent from 2016 when the arrivals were 2 641 to 1 979 in 2017.

The introduction of Kenya Airways flights into the Victoria Falls Airport has heightened interest by the West African tour agents who mainly target the adventure market.

“Statistics show that while most movement of Nigerians are internal, there’s significant traffic regionally and to the west as Nigerians are constantly looking for economic opportunities, increasingly pursuing higher education and most definitely participating in tourism,” Kaseke added.

Kaseke bemoaned the lack of a direct air service, the fact that Nigerians still need visas for Zimbabwe and limited promotion budget from the fiscus which is hindering destination Zimbabwe from increasing tourism traffic from the heavily populated and rich African biggest source market.

The Nigerian nationals are in Category C of the visa regime where they have to apply for visas before travel and mostly online.

“Until and unless these issues are resolved our expectation to tap into the Nigerian market will be cut short.

“Nevertheless, the strategic partnership between the ZTA and Kenyan Airways is much appreciated and very welcome as it presents vast opportunities for Zimbabwe to penetrate this huge potential market for both business and leisure travel,” he added.

Speaking in a telephone interview, one of the tour operators in Nigeria, Uloma Egbuna said: “The familiarisation trip organised by ZTA and Kenyan Airways is a welcome initiative.

“It will give the Nigerian Tour Operators, especially those in Adventure Tourism, a firsthand experience of this truly amazing destination housing one of the Seven Wonders of the World: Victoria Falls: The Smoke that Thunders.

“The next five days will be a time of discovery of our Africa’s rich cultural heritage concentrated in one country. No wonder Unesco has stamped five of its destinations (Mana Pools, Great Zimbabwe, Khami Ruin, Victoria Falls and Matobo Hills) as world heritage sites.

“It is our expectation that after this trip, the number of arrivals from Nigeria will significantly increase, as the tour operators will now sell this destination from a product knowledge perspective and not just as another destination read up online.”

A number of joint marketing initiatives have been pencilled between ZTA and Kenyan Airways which is going to see the country host several media houses and tour operators from different source markets of the world through the airline’s global network.

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