San­ganai/Hlan­ganani ends on high note

Sunday News (Zimbabwe) - - Front Page -

THE Min­is­ter of En­vi­ron­ment, Tourism and Hospi­tal­ity In­dus­try has urged stake­hold­ers and play­ers in the tourism sec­tor to har­ness the use of In­for­ma­tion and Com­mu­ni­ca­tion Tech­nol­ogy to pro­mote do­mes­tic and re­gional tourism.

Ad­dress­ing Min­is­ters of Tourism from other coun­tries, at the just ended 11th edi­tion of the San­ganai/ Hlan­ganani World Tourism Expo at a min­is­te­rial round ta­ble dis­cus­sion held at a ho­tel in Bu­l­awayo yes­ter­day, Cde Prisca Mup­fu­mira said to­day’s tourists had be­come very par­tic­u­lar and would not make any de­ci­sions with­out get­ting in­for­ma­tion about a des­ti­na­tion.

The sym­po­sium was held un­der the theme Tourism and Dig­i­tal Trans­for­ma­tion Africa.

“The tourism in­dus­try is on the rise and has changed dra­mat­i­cally with the over­whelm­ing ap­pear­ance of dig­i­tal mar­ket­ing, thereby cre­at­ing new op­por­tu­ni­ties to progress and at­tract the cus­tomer through fa­cil­i­tated com­mu­ni­ca­tion and em­pow­ered guest en­gage­ment,” she said.

Cde Mup­fu­mira said it was im­por­tant for tourist des­ti­na­tions to cre­ate and reg­u­larly up­date web­sites, where tourists could find in­for­ma­tion about their fa­cil­i­ties.

“It is widely pre­dicted that tourism will be one of the most rapidly ex­pand­ing in­dus­tries on­line and that pur­chas­ing prod­ucts via dig­i­tal plat­forms is one of the fastest grow­ing forms of shop­ping,” said Cde Mup­fu­mira.

She said ac­cord­ing to a sur­vey, in­ter­na­tional trav­ellers were in­creas­ingly in­ter­ested in making reser­va­tions at ho­tels, buy­ing air­line tick­ets and pur­chas­ing other prod­ucts linked to tourism through on­line plat­forms, par­tic­u­larly through their phones.

“With such a huge de­mand on the dig­i­tal­i­sa­tion sec­tor it is im­por­tant that as Africa we plan, de­velop and mar­ket our des­ti­na­tions, tak­ing into con­sid­er­a­tion that tech­nol­ogy per­vades ev­ery area of tourism and must be given the high­est pri­or­ity,” said Cde Mup­fu­mira.

She said her min­istry had en­gaged and was work­ing with the pri­vate sec­tor to pro­mote the use of In­for­ma­tion and Com­mu­ni­ca­tion Tech­nol­ogy in do­mes­tic tourism de­vel­op­ment.

“Re­cently the Rainbow Tourism Group launched the tourism in­dus­try’s first in­te­grated mo­bile and in­ter­net ap­pli­ca­tion­the Rainbow Gate­way, in a bid to pro­mote do­mes­tic and global tourism by im­prov­ing ac­ces­si­bil­ity. The ap­pli­ca­tion al­lows for users to book and pay for ser­vices such as ac­com­mo­da­tion in ho­tels, lodges and homes around the coun­try,” she said.

Cde Mup­fu­mira said the ap­pli­ca­tion would rev­o­lu­tionise Zim­bab­wean tourism in­dus­try.

“Africa needs to be seen and heard, hence in­no­va­tion and swift re­sponse to chang­ing con­sumer be­haviour and needs along the dig­i­tal trends,” she said.

Speak­ing at the same event the Zim­babwe Tourism Au­thor­ity chief ex­ec­u­tive Dr Karikoga Kaseke en­cour­aged the Govern­ment to work on de­vel­op­ing ac­ces­si­ble and com­pet­i­tive ICT sys­tems for all stake­hold­ers to ben­e­fit.

“We want all our en­ti­ties to of­fer cheap Wi-Fi. It is a broad is­sue but it is wise for all our play­ers in var­i­ous coun­tries to en­sure they im­ple­ment and avail cheap Wi-Fi. Most tourist des­ti­na­tions are in the ru­ral ar­eas and those places need in­ter­net con­nec­tiv­ity.

“Govern­ment needs to work on de­vel­op­ing these ar­eas. Not only should renowned tourist des­ti­na­tions ben­e­fit from ICTs. We need to be se­ri­ous about what we are do­ing in or­der to ben­e­fit from this. It is all a game of mar­ket­ing and Zim­babwe needs to adopt this,” said Dr Kaseke.

Ad­dress­ing a clos­ing press con­fer­ence of the San­ganai/ Hlan­ganani World Tourism Expo Dr Kaseke said next year’s event would be big­ger and bet­ter and would see the birth of the Bu­l­awayo Car­ni­val.

“The week be­fore the San­ganai/ Hlan­ganani expo there will be a three day car­ni­val that seeks to cel­e­brate the life and times of our late iconic Fa­ther Zim­babwe. We will in­vite the in­ter­na­tional com­mu­nity to at­tend the cel­e­bra­tions, which will of­fi­cially be launched next year,” said Dr Kaseke.

He added that the car­ni­val will be pa­tron­ized by na­tion­als from Swazi­land, Botswana and Namibia.

“There will be no Brazil­ians. They are for the Harare car­ni­val, as this car­ni­val is cen­tred on cel­e­brat­ing a life and cul­ture of our fore­fa­ther. I guar­an­tee that there will be no less than 10 coun­tries in at­ten­dance,” he said.

e expo started on Thurs­day. @pe­terk­matika

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