Government in bid to revive Bulawayo tourism industry

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THE government says it wants to revive the tourism industry in Bulawayo, with the city set to host the country`s flagship tourism expo, the Sanganai/Hlanganani Tourism Expo, for the next three years. 
This year`s exhibition kicks off Thursday at the Zimbabwe International Exhibition Centre in Bulawayo. It runs until Saturday. 
The expo will be officially opened by Vice President Phelekezela Mphoko on Thursday.
Speaking at a press conference in the city, Zimbabwe Tourism Authority (ZTA) chief executive Karikoga Kaseke said government has put together strategies to revive the economy of Bulawayo. 
“Bulawayo will be hosting Sanganai for a minimum of three years. We want to see what the (local) tourism economy will be (like) after three years,” he said.
“I am very confident that the strategies we are trying to employ and implement for this region, if they work, the tourism industry would be booming and the (current) problems will be a thing of the past.” 
Bulawayo usually experiences a boom during the Zimbabwe International Trade Fair(Zitf) which is held annually in the city during the month of April. During the other months of the year, hoteliers struggle to get meaningful business. 
On exhibitor at this year’s Sanganai/Hlanganani Tourism Expo, Kaseke said the number has increased from last year`s edition. 
He said 236 exhibitors have confirmed participation, up from 128 exhibitors last year. 35 foreign companies are exhibiting representing 11 countries. 
“This is a significant improvement from last year where foreign exhibitors were 19,” said Kaseke. 
The ZTA boss said this year`s expo will mainly focus on cultural tourism adding it was not mistake for the expo to be held in Bulawayo which is considered the country`s ‘home of culture’. 
A total of 128 buyers are participating at this year`s expo, an increase from last year`s 111.
The international buyers are from countries China, United States of America, Netherlands, Germany, Turkey and Switzerland. 33 international journalists are also covering the tourism fair.
Kaseke said the attention that Zimbabwe has been receiving from international media is largely perceptive and he reiterated government`s stance that the country is tourist-friendly. 
“The politics that is going on in the country at the moment does not affect tourism.Advertisement

“International media have been portraying as if you can’t land in Zimbabwe and if you happen to land in Zimbabwe you will land in bloodshed from the (airport) runway,” said Keseke. 
He challenged the international journalists to get “first-hand experience of the country and report the truth as they see it”.