The CEO of the Zimbabwe Tourism Authority Karikoga Kaseke was recently at the African Achievers Awards that were recently hosted in Nairobi. The CEO spoke to James Murua on the Zimbabwean tourism industry.
So what are you doing in Nairobi?
I am here accompanying my minister of Tourism Walter Mzembi who has been nominated for the African Achievers Awards being hosted here in Nairobi.
Why has he been nominated?
He has been nominate because he has been recognised for his work in pushing the Zimbabwean tourism since he took over in 2009.
How has it been in Zimbabwe tourism?
The thing is we have been under attack from 2000 and we have had to find a way around it. We believe that you shouldn’t mix tourism and politics and so we had to find strategies to get tourists back to the country.
What is not known is that Zimbabweans are very peaceful people and there have never been a single incident of anything happening to a visitor even as little of losing a purse. Thus we could build on this.
What is it that Zimbabwe has to offer to a visitor?
We recently rebranded our country with the saying Zimbabwe: A country of wonders. It falls under several aspects like the people – Zimbabweans are the friendliest people on the African continent. Also there is Heritage/History which Zimbabwe has many sites. The Victoria Falls are a world attraction that everyone knows about as is The Great Zimbabwe.
We also have safaris like other African countries with National Parks covering over 23% of the land mass of Zimbabwe has been designated as national parks and we have.
What has been the result?
Last year we had 2.4 million visitors to the country which is the highest number we have ever had since the country became independent in 1980.
How important is tourism to the Zimbabwe economy?
Tourism is one of the biggest contributors to the economy following mining and agriculture. The industry hires over 200,000 people directly and many more indirectly.
How are you planning on bringing more tourists to Zimbabwe?
African tourism authorities have not been good at marketing other African countries as we concentrate on Europe and other markets. We shall be having the Zimbabwe International Carnival in May and we urge Kenyans to attend.
Do Kenyans need a visa to Zimbabwe?
You do not need a visa. All you need is some evidence of where you will be staying like a hotel booking.
Do many Kenyan tourists coming to Zimbabwe?
There are two flights daily from Harare to Nairobi but the tourism numbers are very small. Nairobi is more of a hub to get to other countries.