Winning the nod to host the International Conference on AIDS and STIs in Africa (ICASA) 2023 will go a long way in boosting Zimbabwe’s MICE tourism.
Meetings Incentives Conventions and Exhibitions (MICE) business is slowly rising in Zimbabwe following a major setback exacerbated by Covid-19 lockdowns.
According to tourism experts, the country has great potential in terms of MICE business as it boasts of several venues that can easily be converted to suit different kinds of meetings.
Some of the places include the Rainbow Towers Hotel, Exhibition Park (Agricultural Showgrounds, Zimbabwe International Trade Fair exhibition park, and Elephant Hills Hotel among many others.
The fact that the country’s bid has received high-level backing puts the country in a better chance of snapping the event from Kenya which is also eyeing the conference.
ICASA director Luc Armand Bodea and his delegation were in the country last week to assess the country’s suitability to host the event and had the opportunity to meet President Emmerson Mnangagwa and Vice President Constantino Chiwenga who all threw their weight behind the bid.
Zimbabwe is not new to hosting the event, as it hosted in November 2015 where an estimated 5000 delegates were accredited to attend the event at the Rainbow Towers Hotel.
In as much as this is a health sector event, the Zimbabwe Tourism Authority (ZTA) should be involved in a big way and use the opportunity to market MICE opportunities.
They can even market the entire tourism sector by talking to the tourism players to come up with lucrative packages that will see the ICASA delegation visiting some attraction centres in Zimbabwe.
Another opportunity is to use the impending 2022 edition of the Sanganai/Hlanganani World Travel expo that is scheduled for 13-15 October in Bulawayo.
According to the Second Republic which came into power in November 2017, Tourism is one of the key pillars for economic revival together with agriculture and mining.
Currently, the government is putting in place measures to ensure the sector becomes a US$5 billion economy by 2025.
This will be done through, expanding the sector to create new facilities, bidding for international events and exhibitions, and sprucing up the existing facilities among other things.
ZTA is pushing for MICE business under the banner of #MeetInZim which was launched at the 2021 edition of Sanganai/Hlanganani, which was a hybrid event due to Covid-19 protocols.
This year Sanganai/Hlanganani will be held physically in Bulawayo, and according to ZTA, buyers for the event have already started trickling in, ahead of scheduled familiarization tours, across the country. Over 100 buyers are expected to grace the event