Tourism minister Barbara Rwodzi will next week engage the United Nations World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO) for financial backing for the proposed tourism academy to be constructed in the resort town of Victoria Falls, Business Times can report.
According to Rwodzi, the proposed academy would serve as a hub for southern Africa, as UNWTO is leading the effort to establish tourist academies in different regions across the world.
When Rwodzi attends the 44th edition of the Feria Internacional Del Turismo (FITUR), which will take place in Spain from January 24-28, 2024, she is set to advocate for the proposed academy.
“…We have expressed interest in having a tourism academy. It is a programme that the UNWTO is spearheading in different regions of the continents, and we have applied that we can have one for the southern region in Africa at Victoria Falls,” Rwodzi said.
Rwodzi said she will also push for Zimbabwe to host the continent’s first-ever gastronomy conference.
“We intend to host the first-ever gastronomy conference to be held in Africa as we have a lot of work around gastronomy tourism. We feel we deserve the first gastronomy conference in Africa,”she said.
The mooted tourism academy and the hosting of the gastronomy conference, according to Rwodzi, would support the expansion of the tourism sector.
She added that Zimbabwe is set to engage the Spanish market, which has a lot of potential to boost tourism-related income.
Zimbabwe has appointed a tourism attaché based in France to increase destination awareness and advertising in the Portuguese and Spanish markets.
According to Rwodzi, each year Spain sends an agent to Zimbabwe for educational tours, and one of the Spanish agents partnered with a Zimbabwean to establish African Energy Group, a travel agency.
“Every year there are Spanish agents that come to Zimbabwe for educational tours with the last one bringing 14 agents to Sanganai. Of note, one of our industry players, African Energy Group, is a new kid on the block actually born out of Sanganai where a Spanish agent partnered with a local to form a travel company,” she said.
From January to September 2023, the number of Spanish tourists coming to Zimbabwe increased by 28% to 10150 compared to 7937 received in 2022.
Rwodzi added that arrivals from the Spanish market increased by 390% in the post-pandemic period, from 2015 arrivals in 2021 to 9870 arrivals in 2022.
These figures, according to her, demonstrate the Spanish market’s enormous tourism potential, which only needs to be tapped into.