Home » Travel » Tourism Suffers As Parks Department Bars Foreign Buyers

THE SanganaiHlanganani World Tourism Expo which kicked off on Wednesday in Harare started on a sad note as the Parks amp Wildlife Management Authority denied international buyers entry to the department’s sites.

Efforts to get clarification on the matter were fruitless as the phones of the relevant authorities went unanswered.

But unconfirmed reports said this was due to differences between the bosses in the wild life and the Zimbabwe Tourism Authority departments.

The Zimbabwe Parks amp Wildlife Management Authority is a parastatal which operates under an Act of Parliament, the Parks and Wildlife Act of 1975 and it falls under the Ministry of Environment, Water and Climate which is headed by Minister Saviour Kasukuwere who is also Zanu PF National Political Commissar.

The Zimbabwe Tourism Authority is a Parastatal formed from the Tourism Act 1996 Chapt. 14:20 with a mandate of marketing Zimbabwe as a tourism destination and it falls under the Ministry of Tourism and Hospitality Industry headed by Engineer Walter Mzembi.

Sources said Kasukuwere and Muzembi don’t see eye-to-eye adding that was now affecting the smooth running of business in the two departments which used to be under the Tourism Ministry.

Speaking to journalists, Zimbabwe Tourism Authority (ZTA) Chief Executive Officer Karikoga Kaseke said the decision to deny buyers entry was devastating though he could not determine the loss of business in figures.

“The National Parks Authority has denied entry to buyers who are here for the World Tourism Expo and the reasons for the denial have not been communicated to us by the Ministry’s Officials.

“The National Parks have requested payment upfront from the visitors for the viewing of their sites,” said Karikoga.

The ZTA boss said some buyers had to go to Zambia to view falls from the Zambian side.

“How do we showcase our sites if the country’s estates are not viewed?

“The buyer will sell Zambia as its destination,” fumed Karikoga, adding Wildlife and the Victoria Falls are the main selling points for Zimbabwe.

Karikoga had no kind words for the Parks Authorities whom he blamed for not cooperating for the benefit of the tourism sector and the country’s ailing economy.

“I have never heard about this stance taken by National Parks Authority all my professional life.

“It is a new phenomenon in the tourism sector which is very destructive,” said Karikoga.

He commended the National Monuments for accepting the visitors to view their sites.

This year’s WTE has several exhibitors from different countries which include Malawi, Mozambique, Indonesia, Zambia Tourism Board, Regional Tourism Organisation of Southern Africa (RETOSA), India Tourism Board, Angola Tourism Board, Kenya Tourism Board, Malawian Airlines, Angola Airlines, Botswana Tourism Board, Tanzania Tourism Board and the domestic buyers who are within the country.

The Expo has attracted 110 buyers and 66 media compared to 2014 which had 66 buyers and 10 media and 2013 which attracted 47 buyers and 17 media.

“As I speak to you right now, 102 buyers are already here and 18 international media have also arrived,” said Karikoga.

He said the expo was striving to live up to the ever changing dynamics of tourism.

The ZTA boss added foreign stands had increased since 2013 which had 16, 2014 with 19 and 2015 had 23 stands with an increase of 70%.

“This year’s expo planning period was short as the dates were shifted from October to June so that buyers would have more time to market and package their products,” he said.

“Repositioning has caused business figures to go down but it is still promising,” he added.

SanganaiHlanganani-World Tourism Expo is an annual tourism trade fair organised by ZTA and showcases the widest variety of Africa’s best tourism products.

It also attracts international visitors and media from across the world. The expo will end on Saturday 20 June.

Source : New Zimbabwe