Dickson Mangena, Business Reporter
A TOTAL of 90 companies including 17 regional companies have so far registered to attend the 10th edition of the Sanganai/Hlanganani tourism expo to be held in Bulawayo in September.
Sanganai/Hlanganani is a one-stop shop for suppliers, hoteliers, accommodation providers, travel agents and tour operators all meeting under the same roof. This year’s exhibition will be held from 27 September to 1 October at the Zimbabwe International Trade Fair grounds. Addressing a pre-launch meeting of the exhibition at a Bulawayo hotel last week, Zimbabwe Tourism Authority chief executive officer Dr Karikoga Kaseke said they were targeting 250 companies to take part at the event.
He challenged Bulawayo companies to take advantage of the event to showcase their products and grow tourism in the region.
“To date 90 companies have confirmed participation by completing booking forms, from a target of 250. Follow ups are in progress. Our target is to attract more than 30 foreign exhibitors and to date 17 foreign companies have registered to participate at this year’s edition,” said Dr Kaseke.
He said the registered companies are from across the tourism sector and from countries across Africa.
“So far there has been confirmation from across the sector, parastatals and Government institutions, associations and NGOs, tertiary institutions, service providers and suppliers to the tourism industry, publicity associations, car rentals and transport operators, tour operators and travel agents and accommodation companies. Countries who have already confirmed include South Africa, Mozambique, Namibia, Ethiopia, Kenya among others,” said Dr Kaseke.
He, however, said Bulawayo was showing low statistics as far as participating in the exhibition is concerned.
“Statistics show that about 70 of Bulawayo’s 209 operators registered with ZTA participated at Sanganai 2016 and so far for 2017 only 19 have registered. I challenge you to turn around these statistics, to reflect that Bulawayo deserves to be the home of Sanganai/Hlanganani,” said Dr Kaseke.
He said there was a promotion for first and second time exhibitors.
“In order to give every operator an opportunity to meet with international buyers at Hlanganani/Sanganai all first time exhibitors will be given free stands to exhibit from, while the second will also be exhibiting for free. That means those who exhibited for free last year will also exhibit this year for free. No operator is small in tourism as everyone has a market to serve. We want everyone to be present,” Dr Kaseke said.
Dr Kaseke also said there were already about 66 buyers that have also confirmed participation.
“The confirmed buyers are still to undergo a vetting process by a joint team comprising officials from the industry and the authority. Most of the buyers from Europe and America will be known once the partnership agreements with airlines are finalised especially for Spain, Portugal and UK. So far 66 buyers have confirmed,” Dr Kaseke said.
He said this year marks the 10th Anniversary of the national tourism showcase, Sanganai/Hlanganani — World Tourism Expo after rebranding from Zimbabwe International Travel Expo (Shanyai/Vakatshani).
“Sanganai/Hlanganani was birthed in the City Of Bulawayo, thus the relevance to celebrate the 10th anniversary in Bulawayo and the consecutive three years of the expo,” said Dr Kaseke.
He also encouraged the Bulawayo public to come for the exhibition fun day, where 100 families will win trips to Victoria Falls and Kariba.
“There has been low participation from the members of the public and this year we encourage you to come in your numbers and bring the whole family as we are going to be giving away trips to Kariba and the Victoria Falls. Fifty families will win trips to Victoria falls while the other 50 will win trips to Kariba,” he said.
Dr Kaseke also said to mark the 10th anniversary they will invite an artiste from South Africa to come and perform on the fun day for free.
“We are still consulting on who to bring but we promise that we will be having a South African artiste who is popular here in Bulawayo to come and perform. The artiste will be performing for free. Our 10th anniversary for Sanganai/Hlangnani is also coinciding with Intwasa Arts Festival here in Bulawayo so the city will be a hype of activity,” said Dr Kaseke.
According to the ZTA there would be awards and 10th anniversary celebratory night where some exhibitors and partners that have consistently walked the decade journey with Hlanganani/Sanganai will be honoured.