ZTA pays global buyers to attend tourism fete

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THE Zimbabwe Tourism Authority (ZTA) has admitted paying international buyers to attend the annual Sanganai/Hlanganani Tourism and Travel Fair Africa held in Harare last week.
The ZTA has been battling to help revive a sector battered by sanctions imposed by the West nearly a decade ago which saw visitor numbers from high spending source markets such as Europe and North America dive.
Some 2000 buyers and exhibitors attended the Sanganai/Hlanganani fair last week as the sector, said to be among the country’s fastest growing, continues its turnaround.
But ZTA chief, Karikoga Kaseke, admitted they had paid the international buyers to attend the event.
“We had invited 120 buyers and unfortunately only 79 buyers turned up,” Kaseke said in an interview with the Herald.
“We were hosting the buyers, we had paid for their tickets and in some cases their accommodation. We also invited 33 international and local media houses and they all came.”
The ZTA boss however denied he was wasting scarce resources and defended the move saying it was standard industry practice.
He added that the US$100,000 spend on bringing the buyers in was a good investment since about US$280 million worth of business was generated at the fair.
“This (sponsoring buyers) is old practice; it is old aged. That is what everyone does, the world over,” he said.
“For exhibitors to come, you need buyers, so you target a market you want to nurture or potential business markets and host buyers from there.
“In our case we spent US$100 000 hosting the 79 international buyers and generated US$280 million. Is that being extravagant?
“This US$280 million is what percentage profit from US$100 000? Do your mathematics! These are deals that will run for the next three years. Please know that Sanganai/Hlanganani is not held for ZTA but for the industry.
ZTA is not extravagant the problem is that our people do not understand what happens in this industry. South Africa holds and Indaba every year and they host 500 buyers, which we cannot host. They host over 100 media houses on an annual basis.
“The Arab Travel Market hosts 1,500 buyers annually, so when people say we are extravagant, I feel pity for them.
“As we speak, we are going to the China Travel Mart and they are hosting us, together with 700 other buyers. If there are no buyers who do you exhibit to?”Advertisement