The inaugural edition of the Bulawayo Carnival has turned out to be a big flop as people from the country’s second largest city chose to stay away from the proceedings that were taking place in the central business amid concerns that it was poorly organised and marketed.
The Bulawayo Carnival which was billed to serve as a curtain raiser ahead of the Sanganai/Hlanganani World Tourism Expo, currently underway in the City of Kings was only saved by Christ Embassy Church, which had reportedly bused its members from Harare to attend the fete.
The Bulawayo Carnival was in complete contrast to the Harare edition which attracted an estimated 1.5 million people during the street party.
Scores of Bulawayo residents who spoke to 263Chat professed ignorance of the event which has proved a huge attraction in Harare.
“I’m surprised that we have a carnival in Bulawayo. It’s only now that I’m passing by that I came across this march. There was no adequate information for us to know about it. They should have made noise about this and maybe we could have had a good party,” said Vusimusi Dhlodhlo.
“This is really embarrassing from the Ministry point of view, why would they want to hold a street carnival on a Wednesday when most people are at work. They should have waited until the weekend so that a large number of people. This shows how they are disconnected from the people,” said Dumisani Magwe, a tout in Bulawayo.
Another Bulawayo resident, Mzwe Bhebhe said, “We cannot promote tourism when we do things this way, there is need to engage the public on such events so that we make it happen together, but when government through the ministry decides to hide such events from us, then they are bound to fail. It’s us the, the public that make these things tick.”
As if the embarrassing street carnival was not enough, the World Tourism Day Commemorations, which were scheduled to start in the afternoon, had to be delayed by more than four hours as the Guest of Honour, Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Tourism, Dr Thokozile Chitepo, only addressed a handful of people at around 6pm with the musical celebrations only starting late in the evening.
Meanwhile, the Sanganai/Hlanganani World Tourism Expo is underway in Bulawayo, with local exhibitors expected to benefit from international buyers who are visiting the stands.