International buyers in the country for the Sanganai Hlanganani World Tourism Expo have described Zimbabwe as a world class tourist destination that needs to correct a few issues to be on the right track.
In an interview with Spiked Online Media, Stuart Forster, a journalist from the United Kingdom, singled out the Victoria Falls as one of the prime tourist sites that Zimbabwe possesses.
“Victoria Falls is a world-class tourism destination. It is a natural wonder that appeals to a wider cross-section of demographics no matter what age a person may be. The sheer natural beauty of the Victoria falls is in itself a pillar of attraction,” Forster said.
The international travel journalist was impressed by the cultural heritage of the Victoria Falls Hotel in particular.
“I genuinely believe that pure television dramas or films can be set at the Victoria Falls Hotel. That hotel has a mystic charm. The views of the Victoria Falls Bridge from the Victoria Falls Hotel gardens are among the best. Beyond that, it is interesting that adventure tourism is blossoming from the bungee jumps and other fascinating activities on the bridge like cage diving with crocodiles,” Forster said.
Singing from the same hymn book, Lauren Jarvis, another celebrated travel journalist from the United Kingdom said the quality accommodation at Victoria Falls Safari Lodge and the view from the Victoria Falls National Park is an impressive way of enjoying a nice evening drink.
As a recommendation, the tourists said there should be more independent shops in the Victoria Falls city centre to provide a variety of local arts and craft items. They said there should be more diverse shopping in Victoria Falls Town and expected to see specific bookshops that focus on Zimbabwean culture and cascades to African fashion.
“There is need for Zimbabwe to develop other attractions within easy drive from the Victoria Falls so that tourists can make an itinerary to see and spend more money in such places like the Hwange National Park, the Matopos and Bulawayo City,” Forster added.
Chetan Shah, a tour operator from the United Kingdom said he had memorable experiences of both the bungee jump and the helicopter view of the Victoria Falls.
“The helicopter flight is a must-do because the layout of the land around the Victoria Falls into context. One gets to understand the gorgeous extent of the Falls. While the costs of the flights may not be within reach of many, it is an unforgettable and memorable experience. Authorities should make sure that the Victoria Falls provides all the services and activities from the Zimbabwean side,” Shah said.
The international travel journalists and bloggers said they are willing to compare their experiences in Zimbabwe and pledged to make people aware of the warmth of the Zimbabwean people and the fact that the country is a very safe tourist destination.
Ironically, they were of the opinion that many people in England think that travelling to Africa is unsafe and associate Zimbabwe with negative stories peddled in the media.
“As a travel features writer and blogger, I will convey my honest opinion and observations about the actual situation in Zimbabwe which have been overwhelmingly positive. I don’t think the British populace is aware of Zimbabwe beyond the Victoria Falls. I would like to tell the story of the Eastern Highlands, the Hwange National Park and various other places we visited en-route to the Sanganai Sanganani World Tourism Expo. In addition we need a direct flight between Harare and the UK or UK and the Victoria Falls. People are less likely to visit more often if they change many flights along the route,” Foster said.
There is a view that while some hotels are world-class, some are very dirty from a Western perspective hence the need to renovate them. Tourists would like to experience something beyond the culture and heritage that is yet to be discovered and understood. The development of infrastructure like airlines, roads and railway lines reduces time of travel so that travellers can plan an itinerary that is a genuine holiday.