The Sunday Mail
TOURISM in Zimbabwe has long been associated with its iconic attractions such as the Victoria Falls, the Hwange National Park and the Great Zimbabwe.
However, there is a growing interest in exploring the virtues of authentic tourism in the country.
Authentic tourism goes beyond the surface-level experiences of popular spots; it delves into the heart and soul of a destination, enabling travellers to have a deeper connection with the cultural heritage and people of Zimbabwe.
Preservation of cultural heritage
The preservation of the cultural heritage is a virtue of authentic tourism. It encompasses a multifaceted approach that seeks to honour, showcase and safeguard the rich embroidery of traditions, customs and practices that have been passed down through generations.
Authentic tourism offers travellers a unique opportunity to engage with Zimbabwe’s history in a meaningful way.
This preservation effort involves showcasing traditional dances, music, storytelling, handicrafts and other cultural elements that are integral to the identity of the nation.
Organisations in the tourism sector celebrate and share the Zimbabwean culture to drive authenticity.
Tourists visiting the country are educated on the country’s heritage. This also ensures that the country’s traditions are kept alive and relevant in the rapidly changing world.
In addition, authentic tourism encourages the involvement of local communities in cultural tourism initiatives, thus providing economic opportunities for individuals to showcase their talents and skills. This further contributes to the preservation and promotion of Zimbabwe’s cultural heritage.
Promotion of sustainable practices
Sustainable tourism as a virtue of authentic tourism involves commitment to minimising the negative impact of tourism on the environment, local communities and cultural heritage, while maximising the benefits for all stakeholders involved.
This approach encompasses various practices and initiatives aimed at promoting responsible travel and ensuring the long-term viability of tourism in the country.
In Zimbabwe, the tourism sector prioritises sustainability, and the Government advocates protection of the country’s natural resources, wildlife and ecosystems through conservation efforts, responsible waste management and energy-efficient practices.
In addition, sustainable tourism focuses on empowering local communities by creating economic opportunities, supporting small businesses and involving residents in decision-making processes related to tourism development.
The Government is also promoting cultural exchange and respect for local traditions to preserve the country’s cultural heritage and promote cross-cultural understanding among visitors.
Empowerment of local communities and preservation of indigenous knowledge
The empowerment of local communities and preservation of indigenous knowledge contribute to sustainable development of the tourism sector.
The Government, under the leadership of President E.D. Mnangagwa, is making frantic efforts to create economic opportunities for residents, enhance their livelihoods and foster a sense of ownership and pride in the cultural heritage.
This empowerment can take various forms, such as supporting community-based tourism projects, promoting local entrepreneurship and involving community members in decision-making processes related to tourism development.
Authentic tourism in Zimbabwe places emphasis on preserving indigenous knowledge and traditions, recognising the value of local wisdom in shaping sustainable tourism practices.
Zimbabwe’s independence from colonialism
Zimbabwe’s journey to independence from colonialism is a significant part of its cultural heritage and can be highlighted through authentic tourism.
The country gained independence from British colonial rule in 1980 after years of struggle and resistance.
This historical narrative is an important virtue for incorporation into tourism experiences to educate visitors on the country’s past and the resilience of its people.
The Liberation City and the Museum of African Liberation being built in Warren Park, Harare, are among landmarks that serve to showcase the country’s fight for independence from colonial rule.
Visitors, through the museum, learn about key figures of the liberation struggle, important events and the impact of colonialism on the country’s culture and society.
Zimbabwe is offering tourists a unique and meaningful connection with the country’s history and traditions, including its journey to become independent.
Charles Mavhunga co-authored textbooks in business enterprising skills and is currently studying for a PhD in Management at Bindura University. He can be contacted at: [email protected], Cell: 0772989816.