ENVIRONMENT,Tourism and Hospitality Industry Minister Prisca Mupfumira says China is a very lucrative source market for outbound tourists and people can only ignore it at their own peril.
According to UNWTO, China has been the largest contributor of world’s outbound tourist for a consecutive number of years and will remain so for years to come.
However, Zimbabwe has not been able to attract as many Chinese tourists to the country managing only 19 000 in 2018.
Speaking at the China Ready Training Program for Zimbabwe, Minister Mupfumira said the country can only expect more from China after the readiness program.
“Anyone ignoring China at this moment can do so at their own peril given that, the country is now globally acknowledged as a vital source market. The Chinese have spent over US$115 billion globally in outbound tourism expenditure in 2018 and are projected by the UNWTO to double the current outbound trips to 200 million by 2020.
“On the home front, Zimbabwe tourist arrivals from China grew from 14 407 arrivals in 2017 to 19 428 in 2018. The country is definitely destined for better prospects now that we have taken a giant step as a destination to become China Ready,” she said.
Zimbabwe becomes the 46th country in the world to conduct the China Readiness Program and the first in Africa.
Zimbabwe Tourism Authority chief executive Karikoga Kaseke told delegates at the 2018th edition of Sanganai/Hlanganani World Travel Expo that Zimbabwe has been lagging in terms of being ready to handle tourists from China.
Some of the challenges that Chinese have in travelling to Zimbabwe is lack of direct flights, the type of food served in hotels, meal times, language and communication, as well as lack of awareness on the product in Chinese market among many others.
The Chinese Readiness Training comes at a time when Zimbabwe is preparing to receive about 350 Chinese tourists courtesy of the memorandum with Touchroad International Group.
The tourists are coming under the monthly multi-destination tour series for Chinese tourists to Djibouti, Tanzania and Zimbabwe commencing in May 2019.
Minister Mupfumira called on the ZTA to complement the training with destination visibility in China so as to attract more Chinese.
“Ladies and Gentlemen, I challenge the Zimbabwe Tourism Authority to match the commitment and zeal that you have shown on the Chinese market, by increasing the destination’s visibility in China. We need to complement your efforts and those of other like-minded stakeholders like Welcome China, and Touchroad International Group to increase tourist arrivals to Zimbabwe.
“If Touchroad alone can bring between 5000 to 8000 tourists to Zimbabwe annually in a 5-year circle up to 2023 then all of us here combined can aptly rise to this call. The government has taken the lead to ease visa requirements for Chinese nationals travelling to Zimbabwe,” she said.
The Minister added that “as a destination, we continue to seek partnerships with Chinese organisations that are willing to promote Brand Zimbabwe in China. We remain open for business and we look forward to welcoming more Chinese tourists to Zimbabwe, A World of Wonders now and beyond,” said Mupfumira.
Speaking at the same occasion, ZTA acting chief executive Rita Likukuma said her organisation has made a lot of ground into the Chinese market via various initiatives.
“ZTA has made significant initiatives in conjunction with the industry. However, more needs to be done in this vast market including the project whose launch we are here to witness.
“I hope the discussions today will help us to think not only on what we are doing but also on how we are doing it so that in the end we deliver the results that improve the way we do business with the Chinese market,” she said.