The cash strapped Zimbabwean government has blown US$485 000 to pay airfare tickets for the 224 international buyers and 24 international media organisations who are set to attend the 10th edition of the Sanganai/Hlanganani- World Tourism Expo, 263Chat has learnt.
This comes on the backdrop of a cash crunch that has resulted in disappearance of basic goods in retail shops including cooking oil as the central bank struggle to settle foreign payments.
Addressing the media in Harare on Monday ahead of tourism fete set for Bulawayo later this month, Zimbabwe Tourism Authority (ZTA) Chief Executive Officer, Karikoga Kaseke revealed that government had made an undertaking to fully fund visiting buyers and international media.
“We thank the government, through the Treasury and Honourable (Patrick) Chinamasa for availing funds worth US$485 000 for the tickets of our international buyers and media.
“There is nothing amiss about this trend as all countries do the same. There are however, some Asian buyers who will cater for themselves but those from the United States and Europe will have to be catered by us.
“The buyers said either they do not come or we will foot their bill, so we chose to pay for their air tickets and we are only waiting for their arrival,” said Kaseke.
The first batch of the international buyers and some foreign exhibitors are expected to arrive in Bulawayo on Friday the 22 of September.
340 exhibitors have already registered compared to 236 who attended the 2016 edition which is a 44% growth in exhibitor numbers.
Kaseke said there is a significant growth in first time participants from 54 in 2016 to 85 exhibitors who will be participating for the first time at the 2017 edition.
“This year’s edition has received an increase in international representation. To date 11 countries represented by 22 foreign exhibitors will be exhibiting compared to 8 countries who participated in 2016 represented by 30 individual companies,” added Kaseke.
Deputy Minister of Tourism and Hospitality, Anastacia Ndlovu said the significant growth was a result of the peace and security the country enjoys.
The Expo will include sessions where buyers will be taken through the offerings of the destinations by local, various players from key tourism destinations.