Mutare– Tourism players in Manicaland have called for Zimbabwe to market itself as a total tourism package to reap on its diversity and not sell isolated popular sites across the country hospitality.
At their meeting at La Rochelle in Penhalonga recently, tourism players said the absence of a total tourism package was negatively impacting on other regions with great potential to grow, urging government to facilitate tourist ease of access to the province.
Hospitality Association of Zimbabwe’s Clive Chinwada said the regional sector also needed to package itself properly out to government to ease tourist traffic to the region.
“We have the tourism products but we need to work on a regional brand and place the eastern highlands on the map as a competitive tourist destination,” Chinwada said.
Inns of Zimbabwe chairman Gordon Addams said another major challenge the region was facing was the country’s failure to sell the country’s tourist attractions as a complete and diverse package.
“Until we are united to sell the whole of Zimbabwe in its entirety and not just Victoria Falls we are not going anywhere,” Addams said.
Miffed hoteliers who have been calling for government support in rehabilitating the roads to these and other tourist attractions are predicting a gradual demise of the eastern highlands as a prime tourist destination.
Musangano Lodge’s Leonard Bwanya said if the region (Manicaland) continued to take tourists to some of its attractions in their current state that would be tantamount to shooting self on the foot as some were now virtually inaccessible.
“If you want to improve tourism in Manicaland, Nyangombe, Mtarazi and Rhodesville should be accessible,” Bwanya added.
Mont Claire Hotel General Manager, Brian Nyakutombwa called for a quick redress of road infrastructural challenges as a major enabler of tourism in the eastern parts of the country.
“We need all our tourist attractions to be completely accessible which does not appear to a priority issue at the moment,” Nyakutombwa said.
Addams said the beauty of the eastern highlands was slowly dying.
“There is plenty that is inhibiting tourism in this region and if we continue on this route the eastern highlands is going to die.
“We have lost the entire market share in the region. We have lost the self drive market from South Africa. Nobody wants to take their children on a drive if they are going to see armed people on roadblocks,” Addams added.
Manicaland province boasts of Zimbabwe’s tallest and Africa’s second highest waterfall – Mtarazi Falls which is an impressive 17th in the world with the current state of infrastructure rendering the 762 metre Honde Valley waterfall inaccessible to tourists who often turn back without reaching the place due to the dilapidated state of roads.