Peter Matika, Senior Reporter
THE Minister of Environment, Tourism and Hospitality Industry has urged stakeholders and players in the tourism sector to harness the use of Information and Communication Technology to promote domestic and regional tourism.
Addressing Ministers of Tourism from other countries, at the just ended 11th edition of the Sanganai/ Hlanganani World Tourism Expo at a ministerial round table discussion held at a hotel in Bulawayo yesterday, Cde Prisca Mupfumira said today’s tourists had become very particular and would not make any decisions without getting information about a destination.
The symposium was held under the theme Tourism and Digital Transformation Africa.
“The tourism industry is on the rise and has changed dramatically with the overwhelming appearance of digital marketing, thereby creating new opportunities to progress and attract the customer through facilitated communication and empowered guest engagement,” she said.
Cde Mupfumira said it was important for tourist destinations to create and regularly update websites, where tourists could find information about their facilities.
“It is widely predicted that tourism will be one of the most rapidly expanding industries online and that purchasing products via digital platforms is one of the fastest growing forms of shopping,” said Cde Mupfumira.
She said according to a survey, international travellers were increasingly interested in making reservations at hotels, buying airline tickets and purchasing other products linked to tourism through online platforms, particularly through their phones.
“With such a huge demand on the digitalisation sector it is important that as Africa we plan, develop and market our destinations, taking into consideration that technology pervades every area of tourism and must be given the highest priority,” said Cde Mupfumira.
She said her ministry had engaged and was working with the private sector to promote the use of Information and Communication Technology in domestic tourism development.
“Recently the Rainbow Tourism Group launched the tourism industry’s first integrated mobile and internet application- the Rainbow Gateway, in a bid to promote domestic and global tourism by improving accessibility. The application allows for users to book and pay for services such as accommodation in hotels, lodges and homes around the country,” she said.
Cde Mupfumira said the application would revolutionise Zimbabwean tourism industry.
“Africa needs to be seen and heard, hence innovation and swift response to changing consumer behaviour and needs along the digital trends,” she said.
Speaking at the same event the Zimbabwe Tourism Authority chief executive Dr Karikoga Kaseke encouraged the Government to work on developing accessible and competitive ICT systems for all stakeholders to benefit.
“We want all our entities to offer cheap Wi-Fi. It is a broad issue but it is wise for all our players in various countries to ensure they implement and avail cheap Wi-Fi. Most tourist destinations are in the rural areas and those places need internet connectivity.
“Government needs to work on developing these areas. Not only should renowned tourist destinations benefit from ICTs. We need to be serious about what we are doing in order to benefit from this. It is all a game of marketing and Zimbabwe needs to adopt this,” said Dr Kaseke.
Addressing a closing press conference of the Sanganai/ Hlanganani World Tourism Expo Dr Kaseke said next year’s event would be bigger and better and would see the birth of the Bulawayo Carnival.
“The week before the Sanganai/ Hlanganani expo there will be a three day carnival that seeks to celebrate the life and times of our late iconic Father Zimbabwe. We will invite the international community to attend the celebrations, which will officially be launched next year,” said Dr Kaseke.
He added that the carnival will be patronized by nationals from Swaziland, Botswana and Namibia.
“There will be no Brazilians. They are for the Harare carnival, as this carnival is centred on celebrating a life and culture of our forefather. I guarantee that there will be no less than 10 countries in attendance,” he said.
The expo started on Thursday.