Walter Nyamukondiwa Kariba Bureau
A 15-member delegation of tourism, travel and hospitality buyers from the south and east African region is in the country as part of a fledgling inter-regional product development and marketing drive.
The initiative seeks to foster transboundary products development and promote travel among Sadc and Common Market for Eastern and Southern African (Comesa) countries.
Speaking during a tour of Lake Kariba on a houseboat, the buyers from South Africa, Namibia, Kenya, Uganda, Rwanda and Zambia said Zimbabwe had an array of spectacular products, but fell short when it came to marketing.
They concurred that a lot of effort was being expended in marketing a fully developed Victoria Falls destination at the expense of other products such as Kariba and Nyanga.
Mr Siira Mutseke of Uganda said Zimbabwe had jewels in Kariba and Nyanga, but concerted effort was needed to develop and market the products.
“Lake Kariba and the dam should be the pride of Zimbabwe, together with the Great Zimbabwe Monuments in Masvingo, as they define Zimbabweans’ ingenuity, looking at man’s success, he said.
“When we say Zimbabwe is home of great people then we should see what the great people have done. The Victoria Falls is God’s work and we have also responded to the call to dominate the world and here it is (Kariba).”
Mr Mutseke said people could come from all over the world to get inspiration through spending time on a houseboat on Lake Kariba and embarking on various sports, including fishing and game cruises, on its shores.
Kariba is home to the world’s largest man-made lake in terms of holding capacity on its 663,000 km² catchment area, stretching for 220 kilometres and an area of 5 400 km².
The lake is shared with Zambia.
Mr Mutseke said he studied about the dam at primary school in the 1970s as one of the biggest man-made lakes in the world, signifying men’s conquest against nature and that legacy should not be left to die.
Ms Carol Sanderson, an operator from Mpumalanga in South Africa, said collaborative effort was key in growing tourism in Africa.
“Out of what I have seen here is that for the growth of the tourism industry we have to collaborate and work together, he said.
‘‘I experienced amazing things in Zimbabwe, including the Nyanga Skywalk and being on the Sahwira houseboat for three nights on Lake Kariba.”
Ms Sanderson said there was need to promote cultural tourism and interaction of tourists with local communities.
A buyer from Kenya, Mr Martin Tobiko, said Zimbabwe’s tourism landscape could change completely with focused marketing and promotion of the destination.
“This is a wonderful destination, he said. It’s not the Zimbabwe that I had in mind.
‘‘It’s amazing. I have seen the product, it is saleable and the uptake will be great. This is a great destination and will promote Zimbabwe all over Africa.”
From Rwanda, Mr Davidson Mugisha said Zimbabwe’s tourism products, especially Kariba and Nyanga, were unique, but need proper packaging leveraging on its unique selling points.
Hosts Mr Cephas Shonhiwa and Sahwira Houseboat said the six-day tour was aimed at marketing Zimbabwe’s tourism products to operators in the region for them to include the attraction on their packages.