Government has been urged to come up with policies that promote educational tourism. Speaking to the Herald Business after touring the Great Zimbabwe National Heritage last week, Professor Bizeck Phiri from Zambia said educational tourism helps children appreciate their country.
“During the tour I noticed that schoolchildren visit this national monument more than adults. It is also surprising that most teenagers do not even know about this World Heritage Site.
“Educational tourism should be done starting at kindergarten and primary school level so that children appreciate their history at a tender age,” he said.
Professor Phiri was part of a delegation of Chinese and African researchers that were attending a two-day China-Africa symposium that was held in Harare last week.
The visit to Great Zimbabwe was arranged after the symposium for the visitors to have an appreciation of what Zimbabwe has to offer in terms of tourism.
China-Africa relations research analyst Ms Meryl Burgess concurred with Prof Phiri, saying that children should have more personal experience when it comes to the country’s heritage sites, rather than reading books or being told about them by foreigners.
Meanwhile, the researchers said that the country is endowed with many tourist attractions and should preserve its world heritage sites.
“It is pleasing to note that Great Zimbabwe is among the best world heritage sites according to the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation rankings, therefore this place should be treated with respect,” said Professor Zhao Baisheng.
Tourism and Hospitality Industry Minister Engineer Walter Mzembi told a Zanu-PF indigenisation and empowerment conference early this month that there was need for tourism operators to look at the creation of zoos as part of educational tourism as they help boost the tourism revenue of the country.
Statistics released by the Zimbabwe Tourism Authority showed that the national average hotel bed occupancy fell by 5 percent despite an increase in room occupancy with Masvingo, where the Great Zimbabwe is located, registering a 28 percent decline from 48 percent in 2012 to 20 percent this year.
According to tourism operators in this region, this is largely due to fewer conferences during the period.