ZIMBABWE Tourism Authority (ZTA) acting chief executive Rita Likukuma says incentive travel must be supported as it plays a key role in driving the country’s economy.
Incentive travel is part of the Meetings Incentives Conferences and Exhibition/Events (MICE) program that ZTA is currently pushing for in the country.
As a way of exhibiting its seriousness about the MICE issue which is also referred to as Business Tourism, ZTA established the National Conventions Bureau in 2013 with a clear mandate of developing, growing and overseeing this strategic business unit.
In her presentation during a cocktail held in partnership with the Marketers Association of Zimbabwe (MAZ) at Sethule Lodge, Likukuma said incentive travel plays an important role in the tourism value chain.
“Incentive travel is an economic driver it’s very important because it creates employment in the tourism value chain, it really does, once organisations tell you that they have got incentive travel packages they are offering we just rub our hands and say these are our guys.
“It’s because it supports our guys in the transportation sector because you are going to move people, whether it’s your car there is fuel supply organisations they will benefit from that, it will benefit guys doing production and supply of food be it fresh food be it processed food be it on-the-go food whatever, your drinks and ready to eat staff and it will also support accommodation, so it’s very important that we do that,” she said.
The ZTA acting boss also added that some events which attract attendance from people in Harare are held in Bulawayo as a way of trying to create business in the city through travel, accommodation and food by the delegates.
“The bottom line is we are trying to create business by having people travel to Bulawayo and back to Harare, they are going to be looking for accommodation here, they are going to be eating, they are going to have meetings and conferences and others things going with it everybody in that value chain is going to benefit. If we repeat that every month we can redefine this economy,” she said.
Incentive travel can also be used as a way of promoting domestic tourism which is largely lacking in Zimbabwe owing to various reasons that range from pricing and other things.
Likukuma said the country is largely depending on foreign tourists as compared to locals adding that people need to expose their children to domestic tourism from a younger age just in case they go out of the country for school and they can be worthy ambassadors.
“If I don’t have domestic tourism going on at some point you guys send your kids somewhere out of the country to school, when they get there people are saying we want to visit Zimbabwe and we hear there are these beautiful spots we hear you can go and enjoy and they are asking our children and we have not subjected them to any domestic tourism and they don’t know what they are being asked so it is important that we create a culture where we encourage domestic tourism at every level,” said Likukuma.
Speaking at the same occasion, MAZ secretary General Gillian Rusike applauded ZTA for engaging and reaching out to his organisation.
“I want to applaud ZTA for opening space for communication this is a new dispensation in a new dispensation we have never had an occasion to sit down with ZTA like this or to at least communicate.
“For us to revive our tourism in Zimbabwe we need to start by reviving our local tourism there is no way we can preach about tourism in Europe when we ourselves we don’t even know parts of our country.
“We have never been to Gonarezhou how are you going to market it outside. I am one proponent where we want our local people to know every corner of the country so that when we go outside we talk about Zimbabwe correctly,” he said.
Rusike said MAZ is excited about the partnership that have development and revealed that at their Marketers Convention sometime this year 2019, the ZTA will be sponsoring individual price winners for exceptional marketing awards.
MAZ has also partnered with some lodges in Bulawayo which include Sethule Lodge, Glen Lodge, Regency Hotel, and Motsamayi Lodge among others.
Rusike said MAZ is going to take the partnered lodges through some rigorous marketing mentorship programs and the programs will be for free.
“As MAZ we have a program where we mentor SMEs and what we have done is we are going to mentor theses lodges that have partnered with us, we are going to provide mentorship programs for them,” he said.-