BUYERS from regional countries that attended this year’s Sanganai/Hlanganani World Tourism Expo have hailed the fair saying it presents a marketing platform to boost tourism in the region. The expo, in its 12th year, ran from Thursday to Saturday last week and was organised by the Zimbabwe Tourism Authority (ZTA).
Through it, Zimbabwe showcases its vast tourism portfolio and a variety of investment opportunities as well as Africa’s best tourism products. It attracts visitors and media from across the world. In separate interviews local and international exhibitors said the platform has become handy to their operations.
Malawi Department of Tourism deputy director responsible for planning and development, Mr Noah Nansongole, said Sanganai/Hlanganani has become a growing brand and lauded the quality of exhibitions.
“We have observed that Sanganai is growing. It’s an established brand and it’s improving every year. In the years that we have been coming here, we have seen it’s not only the way the expo is organised that has improved, but also the quality of international hosted buyers,” he said.
“Nowadays when tourists come in they don’t only visit one country, they want to experience different countries. They want to come and see what Zimbabwe offers and also what Malawi offers. Malawi offers a different experience that would complement what Zimbabwe has.”
By attending this year’s expo, the exhibitors said they expected to see new products on offer as well as interact with policy makers and decision makers on tourism issues. During a tour of some of the exhibitors’ stands it was clear that the entire exhibition space was a hive of activity.
Mpumalanga Tourism and Parks Agency trade relations manager, Mrs Gaopalelwe Seleka, said the tourism fair has always been good for South African buyers as it boosts arrivals in the neighbouring country.
“Sanganai/Hlanganani fair has been a very good show over the years. In terms of statistics we have noticed that there is a lot of tourist arrivals from Zimbabwe and a lot of people visiting friends and family,” he said.
“So, we use Sanganai/Hlanganani to try and convert those that come to visit friends and family into tourists so that when they get to South Africa they go beyond just visiting friends and family.
“The fair has been a good platform for us and we hope that this year, it’s going to be good as it has always been.”
Exhibitors said they were happy with speed network marketing opportunities and expressed keen interest to engage more with local tour operators.
“We’ve come here to meet the local tour operators so that we can connect them and we can do business together. I still feel something needs to be done whether a workshop or a networking forum of some kind where we can meet the local tour operators and be able to network,” said Mrs Seleka.
A tourism promoter from Angola, Mrs Kuyanga Diamantino, said tourism fairs such as Sanganai/Hlanganani World Tourism Expo were critical in promoting tourism in the region and beyond the African continent.
“To me as a tourism promoter, I find that such an event is very important among us as Africans because we need to promote Africa to ourselves and also we need to benefit from all opportunities and facilities first as Africans and then we look for other continents,” said Mrs Diamantino, who is attending Sanganai/Hlanganani for the fourth time.