Leonard Ncube, Victoria Falls Reporter
HWANGE National Park is Zimbabwe’s largest game reserve and ranked the 10th in Africa but is not as visible as it should be because of poor marketing.
There is inadequate signage even along the Bulawayo-Victoria Falls highway. Motorists barely notice they are entering the sanctuary, were it not for signs warning of danger posed by animals yet scores of tourists, both local and international who visit Victoria Falls do not leave without a day or two in the Hwange National Park where they enjoy viewing a variety of mammals and bird species.
The giant park measuring 14 654km2, is home to the Big Five and other species that are a tourist drawcard.
Even the Zimbabwe Parks and Wildlife Management Authority (ZimParks), which manages the park, has acknowledged the need for vigorous marketing of the facility.
ZimParks regional manager for north-west Matabeleland, Mr Samson Chibaya, recently told stakeholders that the wildlife authority was keen on marketing the facility but is hindered by lack of funds.
“In terms of tourism development, there is nothing showing that one is now entering the biggest national park. We need a big gate showing signs as we need marketing. We did designs but there are no funds,” said Mr Chibaya.
ZimParks recently signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW), which has channeled US$1 million to the wildlife authority for conservation activities including animal and rangers’ welfare.
The game park’s Main Camp is about 20km from Cross Mabale, and close to 100km from Hwange town.
Environment, Climate, Tourism and Hospitality Industry Minister Nqobizitha Mangaliso Ndlovu has also noted the need to making the wildlife park more visible.
“Fighting road. My first time there; had to take a short break. On signage I think we will do something. The road has recently been resurfaced and when I saw Lupane and Vic-Falls I wondered why there is nothing on Hwange National Park,” he posted on his Facebook page.
The minister said aggressive marketing was critical in promoting domestic tourism. Promoting local leisure and tourist attractions is part of Government’s drive to promote domestic tourism as part of the ‘#ZimBhoo’ drive spearheaded through the Zimbabwe Tourism Authority.
Meanwhile, during his recent meeting with small and medium scale tourism operators in Victoria Falls, Minister Ndlovu called for a comprehensive approach to tap into the domestic market through provision of packages affordable to locals as most activities are beyond their reach. — @ncubeleon