Leonard Ncube in Victoria Falls
NINE ambassadors seconded to Namibia from different countries worldwide including Zimbabwe yesterday visited Victoria Falls in an initiative meant to market the Kavango-Zambezi (Kaza) Trans Frontier Conservation area.
Zimbabwe ambassador to Namibia, Mrs Rofina Chikava, led the 20-member delegation which comprised nine ambassadors from France, Nigeria, Ghana, Angola, Libya, Botswana, Zambia and Algeria as well as representatives from the United Nations.
The delegation toured the Rainforest and the Victoria Falls Bridge, which are the major tourist attractions for Zambia and Zimbabwe, before going for a boat cruise and other activities.
The delegation travelled by road from Namibia to Victoria Falls to show commitment to the Kaza tour initiative.
Speaking during the tour, Ambassador Chikava said the initiative started three years ago and only came to fruition now.
“We have been hearing about Kaza but we are not seeing any action taking place. We felt that as ambassadors from Southern Africa we should take the initiative to market the region. We have seen many tourists coming to the region and the idea is to see how the five countries that make up Kaza can benefit,” she said.
The Kaza area is a river basin on the Zambezi and Okavango rivers where five countries Angola, Botswana, Namibia, Zambia and Zimbabwe converge. It covers 36 national parks, games reserves and community conservancies including the Zambezi Region, Chobe, Okavango Delta and Victoria Falls heritage hence it’s the richest tourist destination in the world.
Amb Chikava said the Namibian government helped mobilise the ambassadors on a joint initiative supported by the UN.
“This is the first such concept in the region meant to harness gains in the tourism sector. As you can see, the UN is here and all the ambassadors have promised to come back to visit,” said Amba Chikava.
She said after the tour they will prepare a report with recommendations and start selling the Kaza destination.
“We came by road so that we take stock of activities on the way including the capacity of our borders,” she added.
Tourism, Hospitality Industry and Environment Minister Edgar Mbwembwe praised the ambassadors saying their initiative dovetails with government’s initiative to build the Zimbabwe brand. He said Zimbabwe had been suffering negative publicity hence the need for image building.
“I am greatly honoured to welcome you on behalf of the government of Zimbabwe and we are happy that you have come from different corners of the world to appreciate what we are trying to do as Kaza to market our destinations collectively.
“Publicity has been negative and we are happy that you are leaving with first hand information as our ambassadors and your initiative is going to help market Zimbabwe and Kaza as a safe destination,” he said.
Algerian ambassador to Namibia Sid Ali Abdelbari concurred saying a multi-sectoral marketing approach was key in making the region known to the world.
In a statement, the UN office in Namibia said the tour resonates with the Sustainable Development Goals on issues of poverty eradication, environmental sustainability and employment creation.
Namibia Wildlife Resorts, Zimbabwe Tourism Authority, Zimbabwe National Parks and Wildlife Management Authority were part of the tour.