By Leopold Munhende, Chief Correspondent
THE Great Zimbabwe Monuments are receiving less than 10% of foeign tourists who visit Victoria Falls, United Nations Office for Project Services (UNOPS) project manager for the site’s rehabilitation Salesio Zwawada has said.
Zwawada who was addressing journalists at a recent workshop in Masvingo said UNOPS, which is currently involved in a £3 million-three year development project at the monuments, will soon be engaging a yet to be identified private player to do marketing for the World Heritage Site (WHS).
Covering 800 hectares, Great Zimbabwe is the largest of more than 150 dry mortar stone ruins scattered across Zimbabwe and Mozambique according to the United Nations (UN) agency.
“Great Zimbabwe has strong potential for tourism, however, not much is happening primarily because there is inadequate resources to market and promote it as a destination,” said Zwawada.
“Statistics from our feasibility study indicate that Great Zimbabwe receives less than 10% of international tourists that go to Victoria Falls. If Victoria Falls gets a hundred Great Zimbabwe gets less than 10.
“After further studies are done the idea is to delegate a private player who is going to do a commercial marketing and promotion of the site, following a tourism strategy or plan that comes from the process.”
An Agence Francaise de Developpement (AFD) funded feasibility study conducted by UNOPS between January and September, 2021 identified issues and opportunities for Great Zimbabwe’s enhancement WHS status.
Added Zwawada: “When I interacted with the Zimbabwe Tourism Authority (ZTA) they said part of the reason was that hospitality facilities do not provide for tourists and businesses to come. They gave examples of the few hotels which are in Masvingo.
“It is not that people do not want to come here, there are very few facilities.”
Victoria Falls, Nyanga and Vumba are Zimbabwe’s premier tourist attractions. Little has been done however to market other, worthy spaces such as Great Zimbabwe, Matopos Hills among others.
Zimbabwe Tourism Authority (ZTA) spokesperson Godfrey ‘Chief’ Koti said they were working on implementing a 2020 masterplan that will merge tourism at the heritage site with its neighbouring attractions so as to convince more people to visit.
“We have drawn a masterplan for Great Zimbabwe and now are on the ground trying to open up investment lines so that people come up with various activities and accommodation facilities,” said Koti.
“We are working on merging the whole area with the Tugwi-Mukosi project and making sure that we reap as much as we can from the heritage site.
“There are some people already putting lodges on some of the islands there but currently we are trying to make some noise about the Great Zimbabwe to make sure people go there.
“We have talked to operators to improve the room stock and quality there as it has already proved to be a favourite for local tourists.”
ZTA is currently running a campaign to encourage local and foreign tourists to visit through the #ZimBho campaign. This involved profiling and marketing of local attractions.