#Sanganai 2015 signals a return of Zimbabwe as a major tourism destination in Africa



(Posted 20th June 2015)

As Sanganai 2015 is today opening its doors for the general public, after two successful days of B2B contacts among buyers and exhibitors, has Zimbabwe’s Vice President in his remarks during the official opening of the country’s primary international tourism show directed that the event be held in other cities across Zimbabwe.

For the 2016, the 9th edition of Sanganai, he named the country’s second largest city, Bulawayo, as the venue with the tourism fair to be held at the Bulawayo Conference Centre, though he did indicate that once work on a similar facility in Victoria Falls was complete, one of the future editions would certainly be held on location of Zimbabwe’s biggest tourism attraction.

While making mention of such future locations he also revealed that late this year would the new Victoria Falls International Airport be opened, allowing for substantial capacity increased of visitors to the iconic city.

The Vice President had earlier on alluded to the growing success of the trade show, which two years ago changed format from the classic display of tourism attractions and service providers to a primary business to business exchange format, and going by the number increases year on year clearly a smart move. He also assured Zimbabwe’s tourism who is who present that the government had made a firm commitment to provide adequate funding not just for future Sanganai events but also for key international tourism trade shows where Zimbabwe, in the words of the Minister for Tourism and Hospitality, must be present to be seen and be able to hard sell the destination.

Earlier on, when introducing the Vice President, has Zimbabwe’s Minister for Tourism and Hospitality, described the journey of Sanganai to the audience and elaborated on the country’s intent to see it lifted into the top ranks of African tourism trade fairs, citing Indaba and Kenya’s Magical Kenya Travel Expo as key examples where the organizers want Sanganai to be headed to.

This year was the event also raised into the policy level when four tourism ministers had come to Harare, from South Africa, Zambia, Congo DR and Mozambique, engaging with the exhibitors and buyers on a range of issues, notably among them the need to lift the often travel preventing rather than travel facilitating Visa regimes in place across the continent. Air connectivity too was ranked high on the agenda to accomplish such lofty ideals and the ongoing revival of Air Zimbabwe, besides the start later this year of Fastjet, which according to information obtained while at Sanganai had completed more than half of the AOC – short of Air Operators Certificate – audit process, may take to the skies as early as September. The airline has just taken on a fourth Airbus A319, which is presently being outfitted and liveried, due to be placed in Harare for the start of operations.

(This correspondent seen with the Chief Executive Officer of Zambia Tourism Mr. Felix Chaila and a hosted buyer from the US)

Among Zimbabwean exhibitors a distinct level of pride could be sensed how Sanganai has helped the country to put itself back on the global tourism map. They keenly sought interaction, through pre-booked meeting appointments but also in the corridors of the exhibition as well as in the spacious Buyers VIP Lounge, with foreign buyers but notably also the invited international media representatives to tell their story, one marked by what can be described as both stubborn refusal to bow to adversity but also born out of some deeply rooted resilience to reclaim lost territory vis a vis tourism arrivals and revenues earned from the sector. This impression was equally confirmed by a significant number of buyers and exhibitors spoken with during the event from Eastern Africa. Participants from the EAC were coming from Uganda, Kenya, Rwanda and Tanzania.

For readers on Twitter was the event hashtagged as #Sanganai and #VisitZimbabwe with #263Chat another popular feed of news about the event.

For added information on Destination Zimbabwe click on www.zimbabwetourism.net

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