The Zimbabwe Tourism Authority (ZTA) has bemoaned lack of financial assistance to the country by the European Union at the ongoing Indaba Tourism Fair in South Africa, as a result of illegal sanctions imposed by the West.While all SADC countries have received financial assistance from the European Union for the installation of the exhibition stands at the ongoing Indaba Tourism Fair, Zimbabwe did not receive any assistance from the EU.
In an interview, ZTA chief executive, Mr Karikoga Kaseke, said it is clear that the sanctions are not targeted as purported by the west as seen by failure by the EU to fund Zimbabwe despite the fact that tourism is a peace building sector.
He added that the so-called targeted sanctions were not targeted at individuals only because ZTA sent its chief operating officer, Mr Givemore Chidzidzi, as well as its head of research to Brussels, but nothing came out of it.
â€œI sent our operations manager to the EU Headquarters in Brussels so we could be assisted in the same manner other regional countries have been assisted, but we were bluntly told that there was nothing for us there and thus we have funded our own exhibition here as we have done at other fairs around the globe.
â€œIâ€™m not talking politics but economics, but Iâ€™m happy that we have still managed to do better than other SADC countries,â€ said Mr Kaseke.
Mr Kaseke said despite lack of funding by the EU, the country has managed to put in place a big stand that is housing more than 27 operators.
He said it was important for SADC countries to speak with one voice on the issue of the removal of illegal sanctions as they have caused untold suffering to the general populace and business.
The ZTA chief executive is leading a high-powered Zimbabwean tourism delegation comprising the private and public sector for the Indaba Tourism Fair from the 7th to the 11th of May.
The ZTA has spent over US$150 000 in putting the Indaba exhibition together, costs that include, stand space, stand construction, ZTA team and journalists accommodation as well as airfares.
Meanwhile, Zimbabwean tourism stakeholders exhibiting at Indaba Tourism Fair have revealed that they have clinched a number of business deals in the two days they have exhibited and they have expressed optimism that Zimbabweâ€™s tourism sector is on the path to recovery as seen by the interest and bookings by international buyers.
More than 27 Zimbabwean private and public sector tourism stakeholders said this yearâ€™s indaba marks a change in the countryâ€™s tourism sector as seen by a lot of interest in what Zimbabwe has to offer by international buyers.
Wild Zambezi operator, Ms Sally Wynn, Cresta Hospitality representative, Rusununguko Tairoodza and Khanondo Safaris and Tours representative, Forward Mutero, among other operators, all concurred that the Zimbabwe stand at Indaba is buzzing with international buyers from America, Europe, China and Russia who have a keen interest to re-introduce the spectacular diverse tourist attractions inherent in the country to the world as a destination of choice.
ZTA chief executive, Mr Karikoga Kaseke, said it is clear Zimbabwe has made a strong come back to the market as the second best tourism destination in the region after South Africa.
He said Zimbabweâ€™s thrust of exhibiting at Indaba this year is to increase its market share globally, increase the number of foreign tourist arrivals, the number of domestic trips, increase tourismâ€™s contribution to GDP, promoting growth and job creation in the country. Mr Kaseke said Zimbabwe would like to establish a strong international presence in support of becoming a global tourism player.
The Indaba Tourism Fair is Africaâ€™s biggest travel and tourism show. This yearâ€™s event was officially opened on Friday at by the South African Tourism Minister, Mr Marthinus van Schalkwyk, under the theme â€œPlaying Globally, Winning Locally.â€
The theme encapsulates the ideals of shared and inclusive growth, job creation as well as marketing Africaâ€™s tourism products as a region and not as individual countries.