By Daniel Chigundu
ZIMBABWE says it is targeting to receive at least 150 000 Chinese tourists by the year 2025 driven by its various marketing strategies that will include the Visit Zimbabwe Campaign in China.
China is by far the world’s largest source market of outbound tourists having spent US$ 258 billion on international tourism in 2017, which is almost one-fifth of the world’s total tourism spending in 2017, which stood at US$ 1.3 trillion, some US$ 94 billion more than in 2016.
In 2015 about 120 million Chinese travelled abroad and according to the China National Tourism Organisation, China will provide as much as 600 million outbound tourists by 2020 making it a very lucrative market.
However, 70 percent of the Chinese travellers go to the Asian market, while 30 percent is shared by the world, with Africa getting a measly 2 percent.
From the 2 percent that Africa gets, 73 percent of it goes to Egypt, South Africa, Kenya, Nigeria and Angola while Zimbabwe gets only 0.01 percent; this is because Zimbabwe is little known in China.
Zimbabwe Tourism Authority (ZTA) chief executive Dr Karikoga Kaseke said the country is getting too little from China despite getting the Approved Destination Status (ADS) a long time ago.
He said while Zimbabwe is open for Chines tourism market, there are still many things that need to be addressed before it can start enjoying the fruits from the market.
“We are saying Zimbabwe is open for the Chinese market, however, there are certain things that we must do, we don’t expect Chinese tourists to just come to Zimbabwe without any effort.
“What we have done is to say from the 30 000 tourists we received in 2011 from China, we must receive 150 000 tourists from China by 2025, yes we don’t want to be over ambitious.
“Is it achievable, yes it is easily achievable provided we do the right things in that market? China as a market expect certain requirement from the destination which Chinese go, … but we must work very hard and develop our destination to be ready for the Chinese tourists and we need to educate our operators and we will be doing that shortly on how we can be ready for the Chinese market,” he said.
According to Dr Kaseke, China has a program called China Ready Program (CRP) which they use to certify countries which its citizens can visit.
“When we say we are ready they will come and see and they will approve that we are ready, if we are not ready they will not certify us.
“So Zimbabwe is going to have a Visit Zimbabwe Campaign (VZC) in China starting next year, VZC is where we say we are ready for you and when you come to Zimbabwe you will find one, two and three things ready for you in terms of complying with expectations of the Chinese market.
“So we are saying the VZC is a very serious campaign which we want to start in earnest, in the first quarter of next year, so we urge everybody in the market to work closely with the Chinese tour operators,” he said.
Arrivals from China to Zimbabwe have been on a downward trend from the 30 000 recorded in 2011 to 8 000 in 2016 and now 14 000 in 2017.
According to Steve Kezhao from Wild Africa Travel, the drop is a result of the unavailability of Zimbabwean airlines that go to China.
Kezhao said Zimbabwe was able to record about 30 000 in 2011 because Air Zimbabwe was still flying to China during that period.
In an effort to try and benefit more from the lucrative Chinese market, Minister of Environment and Tourism Prisca Mupfumira told the media while welcoming the Zheing Zhiang Radio and TV Group that Zimbabwe will be opening marketing offices in China very soon.
“We will be opening a division of ZTA in Shanghai shortly so that we can market and talk about Zimbabwe in China.
“We know China is one of the biggest source markets for tourism but unfortunately our presence as far as tourism is concerned in China has been low hence this aggressive approach first to show the Chinese people what Zimbabwe has to offer,” she said.-