The Sanganai/Hlanganani tourism expo kicked off in Bulawayo on Thursday with some exhibitors as well as local and international buyers of tourism products and services saying the return of the event to Bulawayo would help them reach more clients.
A marketing manager with a Gweru-based lodge and safari operating company, Amanda Mafa, said she expected that the hosting of the event in Bulawayo would expose the company to more potential clients.
A South African-based buyer, Mark Ndlovu, who has attended previous expos, said Zimbabwe remains one of the favorite tourist destinations in the sub-region, adding that despite the negative image portrayed by some sections of the international media, he has never experienced any violence or ever felt at risk while in the country.
Ndlovu, however, decried the fact that the U.S dollar is the most popular among the multiple currencies being used in the country, saying this makes it rather expensive to sell Zimbabwean packaged tours to his clients who are mainly from the middle class.
Ingrid Gorter, an international buyer based in the Nertherlands, told Studio 7 that it was her first time to attend the Zimbabwe expo.
Gorter said she has heard a lot about the socio-economic problems in Zimbabwe but still decided to attend the event in order to grow her business.
Gorter said she has had a very good impression of the country from the visits she has made to some of the country’s tourist destination prior to the expo.
Zimbabwe Tourism Authority chief executive officer Karikoga Kaseke acknowledged the various problems that the country is facing but said they should not affect tourists intending to visit the country. Kaseke implored both local and foreign media to write truthfully about Zimbabwe saying it is not prone to the chaos or violence that some sections of the media try to portray.
Kaseke said ZTA had decided to bring the expo to Bulawayo as a way of trying to revitalize the tourism sector in the city and the region.
The Sanganai/Hlanganai expo, now in its ninth year, is a national event which is recognized on the United Nations World Tourism Organization. Vice President Phlekezela Mphoko will officially open the expo Friday evening.