Michael Tome & Kuda Mhundwa
HARARE – The Zimbabwe Tourism Authority (ZTA) says it capitalized on its participation in this year`s edition of the Feira de Tourism/International Tourism Trade Fair (FITUR) held in Spain to tap into the Spanish tourism market and regain lost markets, as the tourism regulator intensifies its re-engagement efforts.
FITUR is the leading trade fair in Spain and number three in the world after Internationale Tourismus-Börse Berlin and World Travel Mart London.
In terms of numbers the fair attracts over 10 000 exhibiting companies, 65 countries worldwide, more than 126 000 participants and 98 000 public visitation. Among the participating figures of note was the increase of 8.3 percent to 886 stand-holder exhibitors and more than 10,487 in international trade visitors as compared to the previous staging.
Currently, the Spanish market contributes 6,5 percent of all Zimbabwe tourist arrivals from Europe and is the sixth largest contributor of arrivals from the bloc after the United Kingdom, Ireland, Germany, France, Benelux and Italy, contributing 36 percent above the previous year.
The Zimbabwean delegation comprised of the Minister of Environment, Tourism & Hospitality Industry Priscah Mupfumira, ZTA Chief Executive Givemore Chidzidzi as well as other Zimbabwe Tourism sector representatives.
ZTA Chief Executive Givemore Chidzidzi said Spain is a thriving example of a tourism destination hence need to tap into their base to grow Zimbabwe tourism.
“The Spanish market is on an upward growth trend with 2017 having recorded 12 583 tourist arrivals 41 percent increase from 8 950 arrivals in 2016.
“First 9 months of 2017 saw the country welcoming 8 303 arrivals from there while 10 478 arrivals were recorded in 2018.
“Meetings with various tourism buyers and investors from Spanish and other European countries indicate there is strong interest in holidaying in Zimbabwe,” said Mr Chidzidzi.
He also highlighted that while in Spain scores of destination marketing experts and operators visited the Zimbabwe exhibition stand at the Trade Fair.
Meanwhile Zimbabwe and Zambia have joined hands in pushing for the visibility of the two destinations in line with the two countries’ vision of ease of access between the two countries.
The development comes at a time when the tourism regulator is making strides towards re-engaging with international tourism operators and other investors to restore Zimbabwean tourism to its past glory.
Over the years, the sector was affected by turbulent times that rocked the economy, which resulted in production input costs, especially of goods that are required to sustain operating costs of business.
This was compounded by shortage of essential commodities and other less essential commodities, but the situation has since stabilised with availability of goods drastically improving.