from DANIEL JONES in Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe
VICTORIA FALLS, (CAJ News) – Tourism and hotel operators in the Kavango-Zambezi Transfrontier Conservation Area (KAZA-TFCA) have been urged to effectively market local initiatives.
This would revive the sector in the wake of COVID-19.
The appeal comes as tourist arrivals to Zimbabwe are believed to have dropped by 40% in 2021 due to the global pandemic.
Barbara Rwodzi, deputy minister for environment, climate, tourism and hospitality, said there was also an over-proportionate drop in income.
She was speaking at the first Welcome Event of the Africa Eden Tourism Association Congress and Travel Show in Victoria Falls.
Rwodzi called for intensified efforts to adopt a KAZA Univisa.
She challenged the block’s private players to thrive for seamless travel.
“The inaugural celebrations are taking place against the backdrop of the debilitating effects of the COVID-19 pandemic which has severely affected the tourism industry, with patronage and job creation having been significantly impacted in 2021.”
For Zimbabwe, preliminary results indicate that a total of 375,799 tourists were received in 2021, compared to 630,369 tourist arrivals received in 2020.
Rwodzi said the region is showing confidence in destination Zimbabwe as the organization of the ten-day event shows.
The African Eden Tourism Association was established in 2020 as the region’s first entirely private sector-driven multi-country regional destination marketing campaign, to promote the KAZA destination and wildlife areas.
The aim of the association is to establish a globally recognized brand for the destination, create and implement a destination marketing campaign and strong travel and tourism ties locally, regionally and globally.
It seeks to be a marketing voice for the destination to gain recognition for Victoria Falls as a tourism hub and gateway to the greater KAZA region.
Rwodzi urged operators to come up with solutions for the industry.
“I am confident that Zimbabwe will at least live up to expectations, so rest assured that your confidence in us is not misplaced. Let us thrive to package it well and market it for our mutual benefit. This gathering also highlights the need for African countries to strongly advocate intra-African travel to kick-start the tourism recovery.
Zimbabwe and Zambia piloted a joint Uni-Visa agreement that encouraged cross-border tourist movement.
“Now is the time for us to rise up and move forward in unison to promote our industry in the region and improve the smooth flow of tourists, reorganize tourism infrastructure and strengthen air connectivity to complement the flow of tourists,” Rwodzi said.
Angola, Botswana, Namibia, Zambia and Zimbabwe form the KAZA region.
It is home to around 75% of the world’s elephant population which roams freely in 19 national parks in the bloc.
David Glynn, an executive with the Africa Eden Association, said the ultimate aim of the initiative was to create a positive image for the tourism industry, particularly in the wake of COVID-19, which has led to international travel restrictions.
– CAJ News