Prosper Ndlovu in Dubai, United Arab Emirates
THE Dubai Zimbabwe Tourism Infrastructure and Finance Conference kicks off here today with high-level engagements that are expected to boost investment and tourist arrivals from the oil-rich country and across the Gulf region .
The programme, dubbed “Visit Zimbabwe – Tourism Conference and Exhibition” is one of the main highlights of the presence of Zimbabwe Expo 2020 in Dubai, which has been facilitated by the government since October last year, and is part of the dynamics of broader international re-engagement.
The Middle East remains a lucrative and untapped market for Zimbabwe with great potential to bring high value to the various tourism sectors.
Major players in Zimbabwe’s tourism sector arrived here yesterday under the leadership of the Deputy Minister for Environment, Climate, Tourism and Hospitality, Barbara Rwodzi, and would engage representatives from the broader Middle Eastern market. Orient between today and tomorrow.
They will be joined by Zimbabwe’s Ambassador to the United Arab Emirates, Lovemore Mazemo, and the Commissioner General of the Zimbabwe Expo Pavilion in Dubai, Ambassador Mary Mubi.
“We arrived in Dubai yesterday and today we visited our country’s pavilion here. I am very impressed with the preparations that have been made and as you can see there are a lot of people coming to our stand,” Deputy Minister Rwodzi said in an interview yesterday.
“Tomorrow (today) we have our tourism conference and we expect a number of people to come. We hope to sell Zimbabwe’s tourism product very well and increase our tourist numbers and have a influx of investments to various industries, whether in tourism, mining, agriculture and others.
“We expect critical and strategic visitors to come to this conference so that we have conversations about investments and of course as the Ministry of Tourism we expect many tourists to come and hear what so is our country.”
Deputy Minister Rwodzi said Zimbabwe is targeting the Middle East market for strategic national interests as Zimbabwe strives to transform its economy into an upper middle income economy by 2030.
“The world is moving and changing and the population of the United Arab Emirates is growing across the world and we don’t want to be left behind,” she said.
“We therefore invite them in large numbers to also go to Zimbabwe. And moreover, we have good bilateral relations with Dubai and also with the whole of the Middle East.
“We hope this will feature in our conference and cement our relationship, and of course ultimately increase investment in our country.”
The Acting Chief Executive of the Zimbabwe Tourism Authority ((ZTA), Mr Givemore Chidzidzi, previously described the event as the start of an exciting journey for the tourism sector as it signals the reopening of re-engagements with major source markets after the Covid-19 pandemic.
The last few years have seen Zimbabwe tap into this market as evidenced by the introduction of flights by two of the major airlines in the Middle East, namely; Emirates and Qatar.
Mr. Chidzidzi went on to stress that access is key to the development and growth of tourism, which is why the two airlines have changed the aviation landscape in Zimbabwe.
“As we position destination Zimbabwe for recovery from the devastating impact of Covid-19 on our industry, we appreciate the confidence that both airlines have placed in our destination,” Mr Chidzidzi said.
“We are optimistic that our collective approach as a sector will soon yield the much-desired results and we will still be on track to achieve our $5 billion tourism economy by 2025.”