The Land of Seven Wonders And The Big Seven
In 2018, Zimbabwe registered a growth of 79% in number of Indian visitors as compared to the year before. Zimbabwe is intensifying its marketing actions in India, one of its fastest growing markets, with a debut at SATTE in January followed by several roadshows throughout the year. In an exclusive interview with India Outbound, Zimbabwe Tourism Authority’s Acting Chief Executive Officer, Givemore Chidzidzi shares his vision and the USPs of his country.
What are the USPs of Zimbabwe as a destination for Indian tourists?
Zimbabwe, as we say, is a world of wonders. And by that we mean we have got the seven wonders of our own world which is Zimbabwe and when we are talking about the seven wonders of our world, we are talking about people, Zimbabweans are known to be very friendly, warm and welcoming people. Zimbabwe has a very rich history that no one can ignore, including the liberation and the war history. I’m sure you are wondering why I haven’t mentioned the Victoria Falls yet, which is the prime attraction for the tourists. But for us, it’s the Zimbabwean people that is number one, then the rich culture and history then the Victoria Falls gets a mention.
In terms of nature and wildlife, normally people talk of the big five listed by the colonial settlers, the hunters, but in Zimbabwe we talk of the big seven because we’ve added the crocodile and hippo. Nearly 13 pc of the land in our country is set aside as national parks and these are statutory parks which are there to stay and have managed to set standards in wildlife and forest management that is being emulated around the world.
Then we finally talk about Mazowe, which is one of the great rivers of the world and Lake Kariba which was once one of the world’s biggest manmade lakes, until Egyptians and Chinese came up with bigger dams. Another thing that is talked about very little but is very big is our climate. Zimbabwe has one of the finest climates in the world. We have 365 days of sunshine, average 8-10 hours a day of sunshine and we don’t have extreme weather conditions, it’s not too cold, not too hot and when it rains, it doesn’t rain as much. Then the peace and tranquility, contrary to what a lot of people might think of Zimbabwe, it is one of the most peaceful locations in the world. The safety of visitors is of paramount importance to us.
What are the similarities between India and Zimbabwe? You are home to an important Indian diaspora.
Yes, we have a very big and vibrant Indian community in Zimbabwe. The culture, some would say they see a lot of similarities with how people live in Zimbabwe and how people live in India, the social fabric, the family and so on.
What are your plans for the Indian market ?
The Asian market and the Indian market are very important for us, they have got great potential, and so far we have received quite a lot of visitors from China. But India we are now taking it very seriously, it all started by us looking at our visa regime, to make it more friendly for our Indian visitors, that is one way we have tried to be very assertive on the Indian market. We are going to be stepping up on our promotion on the Indian market through participation in some travel shows that will be followed up by other roadshows in the year, and we have been involved in quite a lot of cultural exchange programmes between Zimbabwe and India. There are two or three festivals in India that we attend as Zimbabwe through our government and Indians coming to Zimbabwe also participate in our dances, so there is an understanding between the two nations.
I know the Victoria Falls is quite an attraction to Indian visitors. I don’t know but there’s some attachment between the Indians and the water, at any rate the water from the Victoria Falls all ends up in the Indian Ocean.
What about Zimbabwe as a film shooting location?
We have been talking about it, something we are considering seriously, we need to engage with Bollywood to position Zimbabwe as a location for filming but that’s something yet to be developed.
Published in India Outbound Magazine, January 2020.