Innovation is the way out, says varsity professor

ZIMBABWE’S economic transformation should ride on increased innovation and adoption of modern technology across the productive sectors, an official has said. Speaking on Wednesday during a tourism research conference held alongside the Sanganai/Hlanganani Expo underway in Bulawayo, Professor Ruhet Genc from the Turkish German University said Zimbabwe would not make it outside innovation.

“In this sense, there is no other way than innovation for the economy of Zimbabwe. Particularly considering the landlocked geography of Zimbabwe, the country lacks the possibility of traditional 3S tourism, which includes sun, sand, and sea,” he said.

“Hence the country needs to use its cultural richness, natural beauty, food, history, authenticity, and so forth, like a magnet to lure tourists in the destination.”

Prof Genc said innovation in the tourism sector should be carefully designed regarding the possible demands of tourists. As such, he said Zimbabwean tourism services must adapt to changes in global tourism tastes to maintain their presence on the international market.

“It would not be difficult to find authentic elements in Zimbabwe, as any different experience that Western people cannot come across in their living environment within an ‘African experience’, including culture, food, dance, music with contemporary tourism services,” said Prof Genc.

“This will serve as an innovative step, which will eventually reflect on the overall development of Zimbabwe in economic, social and political sense.”

Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Environment, Tourism and Hospitality Industry, Mr Munesu Munodawafa concurred saying higher learning institutions should aid new innovations and adoption of modern technologies for economic gain.

“I would like to believe that the researches, which will be presented here, will address the contemporary issues that include domestic tourism promotion, inclusive tourism, skills deficit, pricing regimes and currency issues…,” he said.

A number of research projects were presented and discussed during the gathering. One of them was a study: “A critique of the tourism sector planning 1980-2018” by Professor Sherperd Nyaruwata from the University of Zimbabwe. Lupane State University lecturer, Mrs Khanyisani Ngwenya, also presented a paper that critiqued the blame game between the industry and academia. She stressed the need for collaboration to bridge the skills gap in the tourism industry and fully capacitating students on attachment.

Other presentations covered aspects such as measuring the effectiveness of the Zimbabwe online tourism sites and demanded that Zimbabwe Tourism Authority should do more to market the country.

Some delegates suggested that Zimbabwe should invest more in efficient aviation service to drive both domestic and international tourism. The conference came as the first step to bridge the gap between academia and industry and ran under the theme: “Bridging the academic-practitioner gap: Towards research-based solutions”. It was attended by various ministry officials, industry and academics from across the country. —–chro

Expo boosts Bulawayo hotels
THE ongoing Sanganai/Hlanganani World Tourism Expo in Bulawayo has yielded an increase in hotel occupancy with major facilities saying they are fully booked for the period. Hospitality Association of Zimbabwe (HAZ) regional representative for Matabeleland, Mr Innocent Kufa, who is also the general manager of Bulawayo Rainbow Tourism Group, said prior to the tourism fair, the occupancy rate for city hotels ranged between 50 and 60 percent.

“From HAZ’s point of view, all the major hotels in Bulawayo are fully booked. I wouldn’t know the occupancy rate for lodges but I think most of them are fully booked,” he said. “But it’s not only the Sanganai/Hlanganani bookings alone, we have so many other bookings for other events and business as well.”

Bulawayo Rainbow, Holiday Inn and Cresta Churchill are the major hotels in the city.

“Visitors to this year’s Sanganai/Hlanganani World Tourism Fair are here. City hotels’ occupancy rate has been between 50 and 60 percent before the tourism fair although some have been receiving a significant number of bookings. But generally, it has not been good at all,” said Mr Kufa.

He said traditionally, September has not been a good month as far as hotel occupancy was concerned.

Recently, stakeholders in the country’s tourism industry raised concern over a host of challenges, among them multiple licences, bureaucracy in processing requisite licences as well as fuel and electricity constraints.The tourism sector has highlighted the need for continued engagement with the Government to facilitate dialogue that will address the bottlenecks.

Meanwhile, a total of 260 exhibitors have registered to participate at this year tourism fair while a total of 170 buyers including 25 international media from Zimbabwe’s source markets, have confirmed participation.Sanganai/Hlanganani World Tourism Expo is Africa’s premier business exchange organised by the Zimbabwe Tourism Authority (ZTA). The event, which is in its 12th year-running, creates an opportunity for exhibitors to showcase the widest variety of Africa’s best tourism products, and attracts international visitors and media from across the world. — –

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