‘It’s all about brag­ging rights’

The Sunday Mail (Zimbabwe) - - TOURISM -

TKarib­ahe Sun­day Mail’s Fea­tures Ed­i­tor Garikai Mazara sat down with Rod Ben­net, the or­gan­is­ing di­rec­tor of the

In­vi­ta­tional Tiger Fish­ing Tour­na­ment, to talk about the host­ing of the an­nual sport, tourism and leisure spectacle. Below are ex­cerpts from that dis­cus­sion. Q. The Kariba In­vi­ta­tional Tiger Fish­ing Tour­na­ment is one of Zim­babwe’s prime tourism events. What are the chal­lenges that you face in or­gan­is­ing the tour­na­ment and what help would you want from other stake­hold­ers, no­tably Gov­ern­ment, in tack­ling th­ese chal­lenges? A. Cost is the real is­sue and we be­lieve the cause of the de­clin­ing num­bers we have been record­ing over the years. Parks and Wildlife have a gazetted fee struc­ture which is not af­ford­able. Q. The is­sue of Parks fees is one of the chal­lenges that has been raised with re­gards to the tour­na­ment. What are the cur­rent fees and how would you like the is­sue ad­dressed? A. The cur­rent fees are US$20 per per­son per day for the tour­na­ment and only US$5 for in­di­vid­u­als fish­ing out of the tour­na­ment. So for a four-man team the cost is US$240. For any for­eign teams par­tic­i­pat­ing it is very ex­pen­sive con­sid­er­ing the ex­change rate. One rea­son why we never had any Zam­bian teams this year. Q. To a lay­man, what would one need to par­tic­i­pate in the tour­na­ment? The equip­ment, cost, men­tal at­ti­tude, etc? A. One would need a cou­ple of good fish­ing rods and tackle, a boat and a re­ally strong at­ti­tude with a will to suc­ceed in catch­ing fish. Q. The at­ten­dance fig­ures have been go­ing down, as in the num­ber of teams, what could be the rea­sons and any pos­si­ble so­lu­tions? A. There is no doubt that the cost has had a great deal to do with the de­clin­ing num­bers. If Parks were to re­duce their fees sub­stan­tially I’m sure we will at­tract big­ger num­bers.

Q. What prizes were on of­fer this year?

A. The tour­na­ment is a tra­di­tional tro­phy tour­na­ment with brag­ging rights. How­ever, we have had a ve­hi­cle on of­fer from one of our spon­sors for the largest tiger fish caught dur­ing the tour­na­ment over 10kg. With the dif­fi­culty in get­ting new ve­hi­cles, I very much doubt we will get one next year. Q. How has been the sup­port of spon­sors, would you ask for more spon­sor­ship or you are happy with what is on the table? A. Our spon­sors are ex­tremely sup­port­ive and get good ex­po­sure out of the tour­na­ment. We will not in­crease the num­bers of spon­sors as this will di­lute their ex­po­sure. Q. To any out­sider, the tour­na­ment looks like a “whites-only” club, what mea­sures have you put in place to make it all-in­clu­sive? A. Per­cep­tion is un­for­tu­nately the or­der of the day and that at­ti­tude is very sad, in­deed. The tour­na­ment at­tracts par­tic­i­pants from across the board al­ready and is 100 per­cent all in­clu­sive. We would wel­come any new­com­ers to the tour­na­ment re­gard­less of colour and it is open to ev­ery­one by open in­vi­ta­tion.

Q. What are the down­stream ben­e­fits of the tour­na­ment?

A. This is a Zim­bab­wean tiger fish­ing tour­na­ment, the largest par­tic­i­pat­ing sport­ing event on the cal­en­dar and at­tracts an­glers from all over the re­gion. The ben­e­fit goes to the coun­try as a whole. Q. What has been the global reach of the tour­na­ment, that is, from which coun­tries have you pre­vi­ously drawn par­tic­i­pants? A. In the past we have had teams from Aus­tralia, New Zealand, Eng­land, USA and Europe. In most cases you will find peo­ple that have im­mi­grated and re­turn with friends to par­tic­i­pate. Q. Any com­ments or ob­ser­va­tions that you think might add value to the tour­na­ment? A. I strongly feel that we do not get the sup­port from the print me­dia. If we had more cov­er­age of the event we would cer­tainly get more lo­cal par­tic­i­pa­tion re­sult­ing in a larger num­ber of teams. We are also work­ing to­wards in­tro­duc­ing a “catch-and-re­lease” tour­na­ment sim­i­lar to the Test of the Best, held ev­ery Fe­bru­ary, which has been a “catch-and-re­lease” tour­na­ment since 2003.

Rod Ben­net

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