The Sunday News
Nkosilathi Sibanda, Business Correspondent
TOURISM in Matabeleland North is poised for massive growth as a number of international investors have expressed interest in building sporting facilities in the province.
The Zimbabwe Tourism Authority notes that it has received requests from reputable business personalities and companies who are keen on constructing sport infrastructure set to lure sport enthusiasts and travellers.
ZTA’s head of planning and investment promotion Mr Reason Machigere said investment proposals have been tabled for Matabeleland North, a situation that is likely to change the face of the tourism industry in the country.
“There are a lot of inquiries on sports investments in Matabeleland North. This presents huge opportunities for growth in the province and the country at large. We anticipate that there would be golf courses or amusement parks and like facilities that draw multitudes of tourists,” he said.
Mr Machigere said investments in sport facilities should be a wake up call for local businesses to start repackaging their tourism products to suit international tastes.
“This is the right time to think outside the box and repackage our products. The tourism industry has to understand the needs of travellers, get to know how other destinations are marketed and always be in sync with global trends.
“We would want to host conferences with over 5 000 delegates but now we cannot have that. There is however, a positive development as we want to encourage new product packages.”
He said apart from Victoria Falls, which is a prime tourist destination there are places such as Binga where investors have expressed interest.
Recently ZTA chief executive Dr Karikoga Kaseke hinted that Victoria Falls is set to have a state-of-the-art motor sport facility capable of hosting events like the Formula One Grand Pix.
“The Grand Prix will be a first in Africa after the one built in South Africa was closed. So why can’t we be proud to be the first country in Africa to have such a facility?
“Are we not going to be proud as Zimbabweans when we see world companies there and the Grand Prix will bring a minimum number of international media that will come while spectators will be plus or minus 20 000. I will not forgo that and it has never happened in Africa,” Dr Kaseke.
In June this year, Dr Kaseke held meetings with a group of investors from the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and Nigeria who explored investment opportunities in the tourism, health and sporting sectors.
Sport tourism is fairly a new concept in Africa but is fast becoming a sought after activity as people travel to watch games.
Sports events that have boosted tourism globally including the soccer World Cup, Olympics and other international competitions.