Thupeyo Muleya Beitbridge Bureau
Over 500 tourists took part in this year’s annual Tour de Tuli tourism expedition. The event is held in the Greater Mapungubwe Mega Park, which is made up of Botswana, Zimbabwe and South Africa.
Tour de Tuli Mapungubwe is a mountain bike event whose route traverses through the Greater Mapungubwe Trans Frontier Conservation Area.
The event started at the Northern Tuli Game Reserve last week and will end in South Africa today.
The mountain biking and safari expedition is meant to market the Greater Mapungubwe TFCA as the best tourism destination in Southern Africa.
The cyclists pass through three countries during the course of the event.
The event is being held for the eighth year running in the region and for the fourth time since Zimbabwe joined in 2009.
Last year the event attracted 432 participants.
The cyclists entered Zimbabwe on Friday morning through the Maramani area and left yesterday for the South African component of the mega park from the Kuduland area of Nottingham Estate yesterday.
Among the tourists are cyclists, journalists, business people and community leaders from 17 countries including Angola, Australia, Botswana, Britain, Germany, Greece, Israel, United States, Zimbabwe, South Africa, Netherlands and Ireland among others.
The Children in the Wilderness Organisation is the brains behind the project with the assistance of governments from the three participating nations.
Children in the Wilderness event coordinator for Zimbabwe, Mrs Sue Goatley, said in an interview that the event was a great success.
She said they would continue holding the event as a way of raising funds to assisting disadvantaged children living along the mega park.
She said they would spend most of the funds realised from the expedition in promoting environmental and wildlife management projects in the three countries.
The organisers also pledged US$3 000 for the construction of a new primary school in Maramani area and donated 300 soccer balls and 500 school bags to children from the small community.
The two local authorities of Beitbridge and Gwanda Rural District council also received USD$1 500 each from the same organisers to be channeled towards developing more tourism products in the TFCA.
“We are very grateful to the people of Zimbabwe with the hospitable reception they always give us during this event and we believe these tourists will go back to their countries and tell the real Zimbabwean story and promote this park as the best tourists’ destinations in the region.
“The cyclists traversed the mountain bike route for over 300 km in four days and we are very much pleased with the success of this event, we will build on its prosperity in future events.
“At the same time we want to urge more women to participate as you will realise that the majority of the people here are men.
“This time our oldest participant is aged 70 years and we hope to continue attracting more people like him.
“The incredible marketing brand for Zimbabwe will also be shown on DSTV and several media houses across the globe,” she said.