Farirai Machivenyika and Ellina Mhlanga
President Mnangagwa yesterday launched the Visit Zimbabwe Promotion Campaign which seeks to leverage on the sports and tourism sectors to market the country as a premier tourist destination.
The campaign is an initiative between Zimbabwe Cricket and the Zimbabwe Tourism Authority through their parent ministries of Youth, Sport, Arts and Recreation and Environment, Climate, Tourism and Hospitality Industry.
The event was held at State House and was attended by Vice Presidents Constantino Chiwenga and Kembo Mohadi, several Cabinet ministers and senior Government officials.
In his remarks, President Mnangagwa said the tourism sector had an important role to play in the attainment of National Vision 2030 and together with agriculture, mining and the manufacturing sector, was critical in the growth of the economy.
The President said the initiative came against the backdrop of the launch of the National Tourism Recovery and Growth Strategy that seeks to create a US$5 billion tourism sector by 2025.
“The strategy is anchored on Zimbabwe’s vision to be a premier international tourist destination based on the judicious and sustainable exploitation of our unique human and natural resources,” he said.
“It further seeks to re-establish lost contacts with the local, regional and international tourism source markets. Today’s event is therefore informed by that strategic goal, riding on the partnership between the Zimbabwe national cricket teams and the ZTA. The Visit Zimbabwe Promotion Campaign will see a warm invitation being extended to the world to visit Zimbabwe.”
President Mnangagwa said tourism growth was hinged on an aggressive marketing strategy and welcomed synergy between the two sectors leveraging on Zimbabwe’s membership to the International Cricket Council.
As part of the initiative the national cricket teams will wear branded merchandise inscribed, “Visit Zimbabwe a World of Wonders,” and will begin with the forthcoming tour of Pakistan and the ICC T20 World Cup.
“I challenge the ZTA, Zimbabwe Parks and Wildlife Management Authority as well as the National Museums and Monuments, among other agencies, to maximise on the benefits of this Visit Zimbabwe Campaign by unveiling unique products which promote Zimbabwe’s wildlife, natural and cultural heritage,” said President Mnangagwa.
He also urged Zimbabwean sportspersons plying their trade abroad to join the campaign and market Zimbabwe in their countries of residence.
The President added that in anticipation of increased tourist arrivals following disruption caused by the Covid-19 pandemic, plans were underway to speedily resuscitate Air Zimbabwe including upgrading of air strips throughout the country.
“As we grow our tourism sector, I challenge hoteliers and our tour operators to benchmark their brands and products against world renowned tourism brands.
“This campaign must also compel our sporting fraternity to be more innovative towards increasing viability and profitability of the sub-sector through mutually beneficial partnerships,” he said.
Speaking at the same occasion, Vice President Constantino Chiwenga said the initiative to promote tourism in the country comes on the backdrop of developments in other sectors of the economy such as road construction, mining and revival of irrigation schemes to boost the economy.
“We are therefore not surprised to be invited to this launch where we have no doubt that yet another milestone will be recorded for the betterment of our people’s livelihoods,” he said.
Vice President Kembo Mohadi said sport and tourism complemented each other and were a catalyst in the country’s quest to forge relations with other nations.
“The synergies they produce are critical to your continued engagement and re-engagement drive. The two are also robust vehicles that promote peace, cohesion and harmony which are critical in the drive for social and economic development,” VP Mohadi said.
Youth, Sport, Arts and Recreation Minister Kirsty Coventry said athletes could play a vital role in promoting Brand Zimbabwe.
“As athletes we represent our country proudly and this partnership will allow us to pro-actively promote what we love about our country and it will allow us to engage the people from around the world to fully understand and get to know the country that we love and that we represent.
“The Visit Zimbabwe Campaign is partnership between the tourism and sports sectors and this partnership will help our country as we strive for re-engagement with the international community,” she said.
Environment, Climate, Tourism and Hospitality Industry Minister Mangaliso Ndlovu said the initiative was one of the practical ways that could help drive the tourism sector.
“This event marks one of the most practical initiatives to implement the national tourism recovery growth strategy that you launched on August 6, 2020. It underlines the importance of tourism as a key contributor to vision 2030.
“We greatly welcome this initiative of the visit Zimbabwe Campaign jointly championed by Zimbabwe Cricket and Zimbabwe Tourism Authority as a key driver of our global marketing efforts going forward.
“Currently due to the Covid-19 pandemic most of our efforts are restricted to the digital world hence this campaign is ground breaking as it marks the first time we are able to send brand ambassadors to the international source markets to promote Zimbabwe as a safe and must-visit tourism destination,” Minister Ndlovu said.
The Visit Zimbabwe Campaign aims to court the international community through cricket, to visit Zimbabwe.
The Chevrons are expected to fly out next week to Pakistan for three one-day internationals, which will be part of the inaugural ICC Cricket World Cup Super League.
During the tour, they will also play T20 matches.