By Daniel Chigundu
ZIMBABWE Tourism Authority (ZTA) chief executive Dr Karikoga Kaseke has revealed that none of the 240 hosted Sanganai/Hlanganani buyers will go to Gweru this year after Antelope Park reportedly refused to avail complimentary rooms and to also give a discount on others.
Antelope Park which is located on the outskirts of Gweru is a three-star bush camp that offers about 20 activities which are centred on its 120 African lions.
The park normally attracts most of the international tourists that come to Gweru owing to its attractive facilities.
Addressing the media, Dr Kaseke he was disappointed that Antelope refused to assist in hosting buyers and yet they are the direct beneficiary.
“There is a place called Antelope Park in Gweru, most of you know it, it’s a very attractive place and buyers would want to go there but we are simply saying Antelope Park at least give us three complimentary rooms and on the others give a discount they said no.
“So why should we send buyers there at our cost, we don’t have Antelope Park ourselves as ZTA, we are trying to just send buyers to Antelope Park so that they package Antelope Park and sell it to the market so that tourists could come to Antelope Park but if they say no, meet the 100 percent cost of bringing buyers then, in that case, our buyers will not go to Gweru.
According to Dr Kaseke, this year ZTA is going to be more strict because the Ministry of finance is also becoming very strict with them in terms of funds they are providing adding that “why would we send buyers to Antelope Park, pay for their stay at Antelope Park, at their regular rate which is not discounted and at the end of the day the buyers would go, package Antelope Park.
“When they package Antelope Park, tourists will buy the packages they will come and stay at Antelope Park and they pay whatever they want to charge so we are simply saying this is the issues we are talking about why would they say we can give you complimentary rooms, they say get it from elsewhere,’ he said.
ZTA said it would be unfair to ask The Village Lodge for complimentary rooms to host the buyers who want to package Antelope Park and yet it gets nothing in return.
Dr Kaseke said an ideal situation would be where the authority and industry collaborate in hosting the buyers or on providing certain services that would enhance the image of the country.
Speaking at the same occasion, Tourism Business Council of Zimbabwe chief executive officer Tich Hwingwiri acknowledged that private sector need to play its role in complementing government efforts in the tourism sector adding that “it’s important that as private sector we have no other alternative because we need this more than ZTA needs because all these are efforts meant to drive business, to drive arrivals into our destination so we have no other option but to participate.
“I take note of the concern and that there is still more which the private sector is required to assist in making this work for all of us so I take that as an action item we will continue to discuss as operators.
“We appreciate Dr Kaseke in terms of 240 international buyers and I really want to confirm that we have moved into more quality than quantity this is a number of quality buyers, not just a number to add numbers, we are very grateful because the choice of buyers has been in consultation with industry so there is value in what we are doing,” he said.-