The Sunday News
Roberta Katunga Senior Business Reporter
BINGA is a sleeping giant in tourism because there have not been enough efforts to package the area as a tourist centre, tour operators in the area have said.
In an interview, Binga Tourism and Publicity Association chairman Mr Wilbert Makonese admitted that tourism in Binga had not been discovered mostly because of failure by players in the town to package their products and services and due to lack of unity of purpose.
“I don’t believe it’s an issue of what the Government hasn’t done for us but what we haven’t done for ourselves as private players and stakeholders in the tourism sector,” said Mr Makonese.
He said without a clear vision it was unlikely for tourism to thrive but added that they were at a stage where they were trying to make tourism products.
“We want to create a corridor package from Victoria Falls through Binga to Kariba so we are working with other tour operators and those in the tourism sector in those towns. We want to instil a culture within locals of visiting local resorts,” he said.
Mr Makonese said it was important to penetrate the local market before attempting to lure international visitors.
He said they were targeting schools and aiming to have at least 20 schools countrywide visit Binga this year.
“Children are the future and if they can come here, learn about our culture, we will be able to destroy existing myths about Binga.
We also need to educate our students on the history of our country,” he said.
Speaking on cultural tourism, Zimbabwe Tourism Authority representative for Binga, Mr Thomas Muchimba said the area had a unique culture of the Tonga people which hasn’t been tainted and they were proud to showcase.
“We have taken tourists to the communities and villages and they have been well received. The Tonga people have tried to really make tourists appreciate the culture,” he said.
All the stakeholders involved in tourism in Binga alluded to the fact that tourism of yesteryear was gone and there was a need within the sector to develop new products.
“We have stuck to the old theory but we have to think differently and move with the times. Most tourists who come to Binga are interested in fishing hence we need investors who can develop products using the water bodies we have,” said Mr Makonese.
The major problem faced by lodge owners in Binga was that of competition from houseboats.
“Most international tourists prefer houseboats but none of these are owned by any local person, we don’t know who is benefiting,” said a lodge owner in the area.
The operators commended the local authority for supporting efforts to grow tourism in Binga and said the town was just a sleeping giant in tourism.
Last year during the World Tourism Day celebrations in Binga, the Zimbabwe Tourism Authority and the Ministry of Tourism and Hospitality Industry promised to promote tourism in the area especially the aspect of cultural tourism which they said was unique and had potential to attract a lot of tourists.