Players in Bulawayo’s tourism industry in collaboration with the Zimbabwe Tourism Authority (ZTA) have embarked on an aggressive awareness programme to market tourism products in the city.The initiative, which has been embraced by the Bulawayo City Council and the Bulawayo Publicity Association, is a brainchild of a local tour operator, Silwane Tours.
The two-day awareness programme involves visits to different tourist attractions in and around the city by tourism players in Bulawayo.
During the tours, the tourism players were also getting detailed information through narrations about the resort sites like Khami Ruins, Matopo National Park, and Makokoba Township from historians such as Pathisa Nyathi.
In an interview at the Bulawayo Publicity Association before their tours yesterday, programme co-ordinator Sihawuliso Sibanda who is also the director for Silwane Safari Tours said:
“We are coming together as the tourism community in Bulawayo comprising people from hotels and lodges, tour operators and travel agents so that they broaden their knowledge and understanding of the tourism sites in Bulawayo so that they will be able to explain to tourists coming into the city the tourism products available from an informed position.”
During the tours, historians such as Pathisa Nyathi were giving historical explanations of the sites. Sibanda said the initiative was the first of its kind by tourism players in Bulawayo and plans were afoot to have similar arrangements at regular intervals like quarterly basis to bolster aggressive marketing of the city to tourists from across the globe.
The initiative took on board players in the hospitality industry (hotels and lodges), tour operators, travel agents, the Zimbabwe National Parks and Wildlife Management Authority and the National Museums and Monuments.
Sibanda noted that tourists do not come to stay in hotels and lodges but visits different destinations to spend money by visiting tourism attractions such as Khami Ruins, Matopo National Park, the National Museums and Monuments and heritage sites like Amagugu International Heritage Centre, among others.
“When tourists spend money the tourism industry grows, creating more employment opportunities and the living standards will improve.
“Today we are going to do the Bulawayo city tours visiting sites such as the National Museums and Monuments, Khami Ruins, Makokoba one of the oldest suburbs in the city rich in promoting cultural tourism.
“Tomorrow we will conclude our programme by touring Matopo National Park and Amagugu International Heritage Centre,” said Sibanda.
Asked about his view on the state of tourist arrivals in Bulawayo, he said:
“With the coming in of fastjet we believe tourist arrivals in Bulawayo are going to grow because in the past it has been difficult to access the city especially when coming from the capital city (Harare).
“Now that fastjet is now flying into Bulawayo, this goes a long way in complimenting the efforts by Air Zimbabwe.”
Sibanda said on the road transport side they were effective and efficient coaches bringing in tourists into Bulawayo.
“Now we have to engage the National Railways of Zimbabwe to introduce the passenger coaches whereby they come in time because the railways have in the past been experiencing delays.
“As fastjet is now flying into Bulawayo, we wish the airline can extend their flights to South Africa and once they link us with South Africa, it will be much easier to attract more tourists into the city,” he said.