By Tichaona Kurewa
THE country’s efforts to revive the tourism sector have received a major boost after Hwange National Park was named as one of the six biggest and best safari parks in the world by a leading United Arab Emirates-UAE Media house.
The Hwange National Park has been ranked third out of the six biggest and best safari parks around the world ahead of Maasai Mara in Kenya and Kruger National Park in South Africa.
The endorsement by the United Arab Emirates media house, The National News, comes at an opportune time as the UAE and the Middle East are key developing source markets for Zimbabwe and Africa.
The two source markets accounted for about 9 000 arrivals in 2019 up from about 7 000 the previous year, according to statistics availed by the Zimbabwe Tourism Authority.
The news has been met with excitement and hope for a better future as summed up by Victoria Falls-based tourism executive, Tendai Makuzha.
“This is good news for Zimbabwe, this should see more arrivals from that part of the world. The ranking is spot on because Hwange National Park is still the best with animals in their natural environment. The government and other tourism players are doing their best in preserving the park which is what the tourists want,” said Makuzha.
For others the proximity of Hwange National Park to Victoria Falls makes it more attractive, hence the expectation of more arrivals into Zimbabwe.
“Hwange National Park has several species of wild animals and birds, which can be enjoyed by travellers. Driving from Hwange to Victoria Falls International Airport is about two hours and this makes it even more convenient to visit the park,” said Makuzha.
“There will see an increase in tourist arrivals which will translate into an increase in foreign currency earnings for the country,” said Sandra Gilbert, a tourism executive.
As part of efforts to tap into the Middle East market, the government is planning to appoint a Tourism Attaché, who will be based in Dubai, among other countries.
The travel and tourism sector contributed 4.1 percent to Zimbabwe’s Gross Domestic Product in 2020, translating to more than US$620 million.