THE Zimbabwe Tourism Authority (ZTA) says the annual Sanganai/Hlanganani World Tourism Expo will continue to be held in Bulawayo until the city reaches its full tourism potential.
The City of Bulawayo recently celebrated its 125th anniversary. Stakeholders in the tourism sector believe the decision by ZTA to continue having Sanganai/Hlanganani in the country’s second-largest city will help further promote the destination.
“Bulawayo has grown to be a formidable giant in terms of Meetings Incentives Conventions and Events (MICE) tourism. As a result, the Zimbabwe International Exhibition Centre that hosts the major events has become the flagship facility,” reckons Phineas Chauke, a tourism consultant.
ZTA Head of Corporate Affairs Godfrey Koti said the tourism authority was geared to make Bulawayo a tourism hub of repute given its proximity to the Victoria Falls.
“It has been three years now and results are beginning to show. Just like in the previous years, we will be hosting this year’s edition in Bulawayo. By the time we move to another city, Bulawayo’s tourism fortunes should have reached optimum levels,” notes Mr Koti.
Sanganai/Hlanganani has been held in Bulawayo at the Zimbabwe International Exhibition Centre since 2016. The 12th edition is expected to take place at the same venue from September 12 to September 14. Bulawayo boasts of numerous tourism attractions, which are yet to be fully exploited.
Among them is a rich history heritage like King Lobengula’s settlement that is exploitable for tourism.
The city is again a cultural hub, with people from different ethnic groups converging regularly for an assortment of ethnic activities and it also houses Cecil John Rhodes’ grave — at Matopo Hills. Also, it is home to the biggest museum in the country — The Natural History Museum of Zimbabwe, which was the first to be set up in the country among other attractions.
Moreover, the City of Kings is famed to be the cleanest city in the country, a plus for every destination that is serious about attracting visitors.
Mr Koti said the whole of Matabeleland region should benefit from the Bulawayo event.
“This is a trade show for the tourism industry, which brings tourism stakeholders from all over the globe under one roof. Thus, it is an opportunity for tourism players from within and around Bulawayo to come and market their products to a ready market,” said Mr Koti.
Matabeleland North province boasts of one of the Seven Wonders of the World — the mighty Victoria Falls and Hwange National Park.
On the southern side of the province is the Nsimbi Caves, Garanyemba Mountains, Lumene Falls, Fort Tuli and Rhodes Indaba, among other attractions. This year’s edition of Sanganai/Hlanganani is expected to attract more than 25 countries. Some of the countries that have taken part in previous editions include Kenya, South Africa, Botswana, Malaysia, China, Zambia, Malawi, Mozambique, Namibia, Indonesia, Italy, the United Kingdom and India.
At least 318 companies — drawn from the tourism industry, financial services sector, tertiary institutions, local authorities and suppliers and 195 international buyers and media graced the last edition. Exhibition space that was occupied in the last edition stood at above 7 500 square metres, which was an improvement from 6 237 square metres recorded in 2017.
The event seeks to boost business to business exchange through speed networking between accommodation providers, tour operators, local authorities and suppliers. The fair is the successor of Shanyai/Vakatshani, the Zimbabwe International Travel Expo (ZITE) that was held annually at the Harare International Conference Centre.
ZITE started as a small expo in 1982 and grew over the years to become one of Africa’s leading tourism showcases by 2007.–chroncile.co.zw