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Kavango-Zambezi tourism in need of reboot

from DANIEL JONES in Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe
VICTORIA FALLS – TOURISM and hospitality operators in the Kavango-Zambezi Transfrontier Conservation Area (KAZA-TFCA) have been urged to effectively market local initiatives.

This would reboot the sector in the wake of COVID-19.

The call comes as Zimbabwe’s tourism arrivals reportedly fell by 40 percent in 2021 due to the global pandemic.

Barbara Rwodzi, Environment, Climate, Tourism and Hospitality Industry deputy minister, said there was more than a proportionate decline in revenue as well.

She was speaking at the inaugural Africa Eden Tourism Association Congress and Travel Show welcome event in Victoria Falls.

Rwodzi called for intensification of efforts towards adoption of a KAZA Univisa.

She challenged private players in the bloc to thrive for seamless travel.

“The inaugural celebrations come at the backdrop of the debilitating effects of the COVID-19 pandemic which has severely affected tourism industry, with patronage and job creation negatively affected significantly in the year 2021.”

For Zimbabwe, preliminary results indicate a total of 375 799 tourists were received in 2021, compared to 630 369 tourist arrivals received in 2020.

Rwodzi said the region is showing confidence on destination Zimbabwe as shown by hosting the ten-day event.

Africa’s Eden Tourism Association was established in 2020 as a first multi-country regional destination marketing campaign entirely driven by the private sector in the region, to promote the KAZA destination and wildlife areas.

The aim of the association is to establish a globally recognised brand for the destination, create and implement a destination marketing campaign and strong travel and tourism linkages locally, regionally and globally.

It seeks to be a marketing voice for the destination so as to create recognition for Victoria Falls as a tourism hub and gateway to the greater KAZA region.

Rwodzi urged operators to come up with solutions for the industry.

“I am confident that Zimbabwe will at the very least meet expectations, so be rest assured that your confidence in us is not misplaced. Let’s thrive to properly package and market it to our mutual benefit. This gathering also brings to the fore the need for African countries to vividly champion intra-Africa travel in order to jump-start tourism recovery.”

Zimbabwe and Zambia piloted a joint Uni-Visa arrangement which has promoted cross border tourism movement.

“Now is the opportune time for us to pick ourselves up and move on in unison to promote our sector within the region and enhance seamless movement of tourists, revamp tourism infrastructure and boost air connectivity to supplement movement of tourists,” said Rwodzi.

Angola, Botswana, Namibia, Zambia and Zimbabwe make up the KAZA region.

It is home to about 75 percent of the world’s elephant population that move freely around 19 national parks in the bloc.

David Glynn, an executive at Africa Eden Association, said the ultimate aim of the initiative was to create a positive image for the tourism industry, especially in the wake of COVID-19, which led to international travel restrictions.

– CAJ News

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