Addressing students at the Great Zimbabwe University during a public lecture on Friday, Tourism and Hospitality Industry Minister Engineer Walter Mzembi said the country must leverage on its unique tourism sites to lure more Chinese visitors.
He said the entire African continent accounted for less than one percent of Chinese tourists arrivals last year. Eng Mzembi said of the 126 million Chinese tourists who visited different countries around the world last year, only one million came to Africa.
The majority of those that visited Africa went to Egypt, South Africa and Kenya.
“There is vast potential to grow our tourism if we can tap into the vast Chinese market where the number of outbound visitors has been exponentially growing over the past decade.
“We need to take advantage of our cultural heritage sites such as our own Great Zimbabwe monuments to penetrate the Chinese market which has a lot of potential,’’ he said.
Eng Mzembi said Zimbabwe should consider twinning arrangements with the Chin- ese.
“We need to start thinking about twinning the ancient city of Great Zimbabwe here in Masvingo with the Great Wall in China as a way of promoting tourism between our two countries.
“We should also revive direct air flights between Zimbabwe and China to make travelling between the two countries cheaper and easier,’’ he added.
He said it was unfortunate that the national carrier Air Zimbabwe had discontinued direct flights to China. Eng Mzembi urged Air Zimbabwe to revive direct flights to major Chinese cities like Beijing and Shanghai.
He said it was important for Zimbabwe and Africa to expand their market share of Chinese tourists and benefit from Asian giant’s booming economy.
Eng Mzembi said sustained interventions to promote tourism between Africa and China would result in Africa’s market share of visiting Chinese tourists reaching double-digit figures.
The advent of new information and communication technology platforms like Twitter, Facebook and Instagram was also supposed to be harnessed to market local tourist attraction sites to the vast Chinese tourist market.
“There are a number of constraints that limit our efforts to tap into the vast Chinese market of outbound tourists and some of these include lack of market awareness and even negative publicity,’’ added Engineer Mzembi.
Government was prepared to put in place measures to boost tourism between Zimbabwe and China by considering incentivising the market to accept currencies like the South African rand and the Chinese yuan. herald
ZIMBABWE must consider resuming direct flights to China as the Asian country is one of the fastest growing source of new tourists.