Rumbidzai Mashayahanya Mutare Correspondent
MANICALAND’s hospitality sector welcomed the launch of Manicaland Branding last week, saying it was crucial as the industry sought to redress the negative brand perception and strengthen the province’s brand.
Stakeholders in the tourism sector have conceded that they would benefit immensely from the branding exercise. Minister of State for Manicaland Provincial Affairs, Senator Monica Mutsvangwa launched the exercise in Mutare last week.
In an interview, Hospitality Association of Zimbabwe (HAZ) second vice-president, Mr Clive Chinwada said it was time for the region to strengthen the Manicaland brand and make it competitive as it contributed to the national brand.
“For the travel and tourism industry, destination plays a fundamental role and we are, therefore, happy with this initiative by Honourable Minister Mutsvangwa,” he said.
“As the tourism sector, we have set up a sub-committee to follow through on the discussions from last week and make recommendations for the tourism and hospitality industry.” Mr Chinwada said the concept of regional branding took its cue from the fact that countries and destinations had reputations, and as such should be managed in the same manner with any corporate brand.
“The current branding initiatives dovetail with the aspirations of the hospitality sector and will definitely feed into the national tourism policy and master plan,” said Mr Chinwada.
While all provinces have been tasked with branding and marketing their regions, a United Nations World Tourism Organisation Barometer (2017) indicates that many Zimbabweans are not familiar with their rich and unique tourist attractions, something that was previously noted in previous reports.
Though the Zimbabwe Tourism Authority (ZTA) has magazines and information it distributes to promote tourism, not enough is being done to promote domestic tourism and promote regional brands to locals.
The ZTA 2016 Tourism Performance Overview shows that the domestic market is dominant in accommodation utilisation. Statistics reveal that this is attributable to MICE tourism, namely seminars and conferences held by various organisations, including companies, churches and the civil society. Senator Mutsvangwa told Manicaland stakeholders at the branding workshop last week that the branding exercise would be all inclusive and encouraged stakeholders to work in unity
“A national brand is critical for any country, it is critical for Zimbabwe and it is imperative that brand Manicaland feeds into the national tourism plan,” she said. The Manicaland branding exercise is expected to feed into the national tourism master plan that will guide the country until 2035.