South African tour operators have hailed Zimbabwe as a unique destination whose friendly people give it an edge in attracting tourists.

Each country has a unique selling point was the main message at the Meetings Africa Conference held in Johannesburg, South Africa.

South African tour operators said the friendly population as well as unique tourist attractions make Zimbabwe a competitive market with a lot of promise.

“Zimbabwe has the advantage of friendly people which is a key ingredient in the tourism matrix. That alone is a critical area that you can maximise on for more returns,” executive director, Inside Edge Ms Tersia Tegman said.

South Africa has also managed to steer tourists into townships such as Soweto which can also be done by organising tours to areas such as Mbare and Mzilikazi in Zimbabwe.

Communities are also actively involved in taking part in the industry by making artefacts and crafts for the tourists.

From Gutys Travel and Tours’ Mr Bongani Motaung said; “I have discovered that by adding my own routes to other townships i can have a unique experience for the tourists that visit.”

According to an entrepreneur Ms Grace Ngobeni; “Our livelihoods have certainly been transformed through making artefacts. We have also managed to visit other countries selling our artefacts.”

The Meetings Africa Conference also highlighted the need for Zimbabwe to also invest heavily in world class infrastructure for the hosting of such global events. Statistics show that Zimbabwe is set to realise over 2.5 million arrivals this year, an increase of over 20 percent from last year’s arrivals.