Rich pickings for Great Zim curio vendors as Chinese tourists descend on province

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By Tonderai Saharo

SOME lucky curio vendors at the ancient Great Zimbabwe ruins in Masvingo made a handsome harvest of the much sought-after US dollar when a delegation of over 300 Chinese tourists invaded the province last week.

The visit by one of the largest tourist delegations in the country was in line with the Zimbabwe Tourism Authority (ZTA) Destination Zimbabwe initiative which seeks to bring at least 100 000 tourists from the populous Asian country in the next five years.

This first batch which touched down this past week, included business executives, models and leisure tourists.

Their visit was made possible by a Memorandum of Understanding signed between Zimbabwe’s tourism ministry and the Touch Road International Holdings group in China signed in 2018.

When they finally descended on the iconic Great Zimbabwe this past week, curio vendors were left a happy lot after receiving payment from their various wares in hard currency.

“I am very grateful to the government for giving us such an opportunity to sell our goods to a large group at once.

“We really made something out of the Chinese visit. We were charging our goods in forex and they were indeed paying without hesitation,” said one curio vendor who did not hide his wishes to have a similar day in the near future.”

Officials at the ZTA said since the signing of the agreement, there has been an increase in Chinese arrivals in the country from 14 407 tourist in 2017 to 19 428 last year and the figure is expected to rise courtesy of the MOU.

ZTA Chief Operating Officer Givemore Chizizi was ecstatic in hosting the Chinese and said the MOU is a grand opportunity to open the Chinese market to Destination Zimbabwe as part of government’s effort of reviving the country’s ailing economy through tourism.

He said plans are already underway in reviving tourism places which had seen a decline in tourist visits over the years as the country anticipates more tourist from China.