SA revellers’ absence dampens carnival

Melissa Mpofu recently in Vic Falls
The Jameson Vic Falls Carnival 2015 edition has come and gone, leaving the resort town’s tour operators, hoteliers and leisure spots smiling all the way to the bank as they benefited from the influx of tourists who were in the resort town for close to a week.

Not to be outdone were Zimbabweans, some who travelled from as far as Harare and Bulawayo to grace the much publicised annual celebration.

Like any other event, the carnival, which is more of a festival had its highs and lows.

Generally the event was a damp squib, probably due to the fact that the usual party starters – South Africans – were notable absentees because of the continuous fall of the rand. Organisers said only a few attended and they blamed this on the falling rand against the US$.

However, the train party held on the first day was a hit, especially for those who were attending the event for the first time. But, for regular attendees, the better part of the carnival programme felt like a repeat of all previous editions, save for day two when people partied at different nightspots.

Of major concern was the entertainment provided and ticket pricing which some revellers said was not value for money. To be part of the festivities, revellers had to part with up to $100 for entry into the different activities. Some attendees played the race card claiming the exorbitant tickets and artiste line-up which mainly comprised of SA pop bands was a deliberate move to bar locals from attending the event. The event was headlined by afro-pop band – Mango Groove, electro swing group – Good Luck and Ryan Koriya who despite putting up a good show, were not hits among many revellers.

Some locals questioned why top Zimbabwean artistes were not being considered for the carnival as the event is meant to be a melting pot of cultures.

Locals who performed this year included Judgement Yard who are always on the line-up and Mokoomba and a few DJs from Harare and Vic Falls.

To their defence, carnival organisers said their line-up was not limited to a certain race or tribe but featured the best of Southern Africa.

“Our carnival is mainly for the Southern African market and this is why we’ve artistes from the region so as to cater for our diverse revellers,” one of the founders of the event, Blessing Munyenyiwa said.

Tourism governing body, Zimbabwe Tourism Authority (ZTA) which has embarked on a campaign to promote domestic tourism said they would engage organisers of the carnival to lure them to have affordable prices for locals.

“The carnival is a great concept as it unites people but it’s our wish to see more Zimbabweans attend this event which we also hope to spread to other parts of the country.

“Already we have the Harare International Carnival which we want to also host in Bulawayo just like we’ve done with the Sanganai/Hlanganani Tourism Expo,” ZTA spokesperson Anna Moyo said.

“Our vision is to give the people of Zimbabwe Gross National Happiness as we want them to unwind and go out there to have an appreciation of our resources, which in turn, will increase tourism revenue.”

Anastacia Ndlovu, Deputy Minister of Tourism concurred with Moyo saying locals needed to be encouraged to visit various tourist attractions in the country through the ‘Know your Zimbabwe’ campaign which was launched by President Robert Mugabe.

“We need to demystify the tourism sector as a preserve of the rich/elite. It’s an area where locals need to venture into so we create a holiday culture within our people.

“During holidays, people prefer going to the rural areas than visit a tourist attraction so it’s important that we educate them and create awareness of heritage sites young people can visit,” Ndlovu said.

The minister encouraged carnival organisers to ensure they involve locals in the hosting of such events.

“As we continue to grow the Harare and Vic Falls Carnival, it’s our hope and wish that organisers continue to support and involve locals so that they benefit from the hosting of these events.”

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