Sanganai buyers troop in
8 June 2016
. . . SA team laments Rand/ US$ rate
SOME international visitors attending the Sanganai/Hlanganani World Tourism Expo have started trooping in.
The organisers believe this shows the international marketâ€™s endorsement of Zimbabwe tourism fete.
Zimbabwe Tourism Authorityâ€™s Head of Corporate Affairs Sugar Chagonda was at the Harare International Airport welcoming some of the visitors.
â€œWe are very happy to be receiving our international buyers as well as international media who have already started trooping in to attend this yearâ€™s edition of Sanganai/Hlanganani World Tourism Expo.
â€œAs you know there is no tourism expo to talk about when you donâ€™t have buyers, there is no expo to talk about when you donâ€™t have international media so their coming in clear cut confirmation that Sanganai/Hlanganani
World Tourism Expo is really taking place and we are very much excited,â€ said Chagonda.
While the expo only begins next week from the 16th to 18th of June, international buyers and international media have already started coming in, Chagonda said they will be â€œundertaking some tours, some familiarisation tours.
â€œSome of them will be going to Kariba, they will be going to Victoria Falls with the hope of seeing the situation and seeing the product so that when they go back they will definitely package Zimbabwe so we are very much happy.
â€œAnd so far we have buyers from Kenya, from Rwanda, from South Africa, from Italy, from America so we are very much excited and all in all we are looking forward to receiving about 128 buyers so we are very much happy.
â€œIn terms of media we are expecting about 19 international journalists and I think that is no mean achievement, we definitely need international media so that they can see for themselves the situation that is obtaining in the country.
â€œTheir coming is good news for us and it is confirmation that Sanganai is taking place and we are very happy to be hosting them,â€ said Chagonda.
Chagonda added that it was also good to note that the number of international buyers had increased from just over 100 to 128 this year.
â€œAnd last year we also had 128 companies that exhibited in the last edition but this year there is an increase to 169 which is a clear cut indication that people have got greater confidence in Sanganai.
â€œIn terms of foreign exhibitors, this year we have got 58 foreign companies that are coming so that is no mean achievement and we are very much excited because Sanganai is not only a fair for Zimbabweans but itâ€™s a fair where the international world come to meet and discuss tourism. This is a business to business expo and it is actually generating a lot of interest.
â€œWe cannot talk of tourism in Zimbabwe without mentioning Sanganai/Hlanganani World Tourism Expo, this is quite key, itâ€™s important for us, we can only work around this expo to make sure that we have an impact in terms of arrivals and receipts.
â€œSo we are very happy with how things are shaping up and how this expo has evolved over the years,â€ added Chagonda.
One buyer from South Africaâ€™s Traveltroll Africa, Gordon Triegaardt said he was looking forward to this yearâ€™s edition, adding that he has always attended previous editions.
â€œI come to Sanganai every year and I do different parts of the country, this year Iâ€™m doing quite an extensive tour of Zimbabwe to see some more of the products, there has also been some refurbished products like in Vic Falls, they have redone some of the hotels there, so Iâ€™m looking forward to seeing that.
â€œI always like some of the products I see in Zimbabwe so this is so good; the only problem is that you guys use the US dollar, so itâ€™s very expensive for us South Africans, so the dollar makes it expensive in Zimbabwe.
â€œWe wish you should get your own currency back again but I do enjoy the country, itâ€™s just interesting and Iâ€™m hoping to see some new products, I want to see if there are any differences from last year when I was here, so Iâ€™m hoping there has been some product updates, some new refurbishments some new things to see,â€ said Gordon.
Mel T TIhapi founder and CEO of Mel Prods South Africa a Soweto based female company which creates tour packages said she was happy as it was her first time to be in the country.
â€œAnd itâ€™s my first time to the Sanganai as well, I met up with your Deputy Minister of Tourism (Anastancia Ndlovu) at the Durban Indaba last year and she said to me you have, you have to do this event, you have to come through, see what Zimbabwe has got to offer.
â€œWe gonna be bringing about 40 ladies in August to the Victoria Falls so basically I just want to know what you guys really have to offer, I want to experience the hospitality, apparently you guys are very hospitable, you are friendly, you are welcoming, so I would really love to see that, maybe clinch a couple of deals, you know, just to make it more affordable to the SADC region.
â€œIâ€™m affiliated with the RETOSA (Regional Tourism Organisation of Southern Africa) as well,â€ said Mel.
She echoed similar sentiments to those of Gordon on the issue of the US dollar versus Rand rate.
â€œBut the most difficult challenge we have is the currency issue, you guys are trading in dollar (US) and I mean I just had to spend R10 000 just to get US$600, I mean that is extensive, that is really bad.
â€œMeaning that us South Africans canâ€™t really come to Zimbabwe unless we clinch some kind of you know, a deal that we can cross sell each other and we can just you know, cross promote each other.
â€œSo Iâ€™m really really hoping to clinch some deals, I want to see everything especially the Victoria Falls, and we take it from there, amaze me, thatâ€™s what Iâ€™m here for,â€ added Mel.
On the South African buyers concerns on the expense of the Rand/ US$ rate, Chagonda said the issue had been taken up by authorities.
â€œItâ€™s something that already has been taken up with the authorities, with the Reserve Bank to see how best our operators can be cushioned because they need to come up with a rate that does promote tourism because we donâ€™t want our tourism to suffer as a result of a decrease in terms of tourists from South Africa.
â€œBecause South Africa is a key market for us, if we are to look at figures from Africa, arrivals from Africa, last year we had about 1 700 000 which was increase from 2014 where we had 1 600 000 and South Africa is the major source market, it contributed about 700 000 arrivals so we certainly need a strategy so that we are not going to experience a decrease from South Africa because itâ€™s a very important market for us, itâ€™s a market that we should continue to nurture,â€ added Chagonda.