The Sunday Mail
THIS year’s edition of the annual Sanganai/Hlanganani World Travel Expo was unique in every sense.
For the first time since its inception, the world tourism expo took place under a dark cloud following the demise of Zimbabwe’s founding leader, former President Robert Gabriel Mugabe and another gallant son of the soil, Major General Trust Mugoba.
Moreover, unlike in previous years, the 2019 edition focused on a limited number of exhibitors.
However, local and international delegates highly rated the 12th edition of the travel expo.
Acting Minister of Environment, Tourism and Hospitality Industry, Honourable Kirsty Coventry, who is also Youth, Sport, Arts and Recreation Minister, officially opened the international tourism showcase on Friday.
Minister Coventry said she was impressed by the high quality of exhibitions at the fair.
“The stands are well manned and decorated. They are capturing the true Zimbabwe tourism story,” noted Minister Coventry.
ZTA acting chief executive, Givemore Chidzidzi, said they had deliberately decided to narrow the number of exhibitors this year.
Chidzidzi added that the death of Cde Mugabe and Major General Mugoba threatened the 2019 edition of the expo.
“This year’s Sanganai/Hlanganani is taking place when we have a dark cloud hanging above us with flags flying at half-mast after losing two national heroes, that had never happened before,” said Chidzidzi.
“But, in terms of everything else, we are seeing a very serious refinement of Sanganai/Hlanganani.
“When we started this show, it had a different dimension. We have trimmed down the show to be more focused and more specialised.
“We are focusing on the idea of improving the quality and not the quantity of buyers and exhibitors. The stands are now customised compared to the past.”
Dubbed Africa’s premier business exchange, this year’s Sanganai/Hlanganani attracted 290 exhibitors, 170 buyers and 25 members of international media.
Chidzidzi said he was happy that the expo had flowed smoothly.
“Some buyers and exhibitors actually thought the event was no longer taking place following the two high profile funerals. After re-assuring them that the expo was going ahead as planned, they still managed to come through,” he said.
Zimbabwe Parks and Wildlife Management Authority’s deputy director general George Manyumwa said the fair provided an opportunity for the authority to link with potential investors.
“As you know, tourism is also wildlife-based, that is where we come in. Just like in previous years, we played a major role in making the expo a success. The buyers had access to our facilities, but above all, we managed to attract potential investors in the wildlife sector,” revealed Manyumwa.
The three-day expo kicked off on Thursday and ended yesterday at the Zimbabwe International Exhibition Centre in Bulawayo.
The expo’s major highlights included the Tourism Research Conference and speed networking sessions, where buyers and exhibitors were given a platform to meet briefly and exchange contacts.
The Women in Tourism Capacity Building Workshop and the culinary tourism demos received a thumbs up from both exhibitors and buyers.
First time exhibitors Bulawayo-based Umthombo Lodge, led by manager Kudakwashe Deketeke, positively reviewed the expo.
Air Zimbabwe corporate communications officer Firstme Vitori said:
“We notice that some people still have a misconception about the national airline.
“Some of the issues have been addressed through Sanganai and we will carry on setting the record straight on similar platforms.”
Sanganai/Hlanganani is an annual event that showcases Zimbabwe’s tourism offerings to international tourist wholesalers, tourism boards and investors.
lt is the country’s prime tourism fair, which is organised by the Zimbabwe Tourism Authority (ZTA).
The Tourism Business Council of Zimbabwe projects arrivals to grow by a minimum of 10 percent by the end of 2019 from 2,6 million arrivals recorded last year.