6 October 2006

Zimbabwe: Forestry Commission Steps Up Marketing Strategies

Harare — THE Forestry Commission has stepped up its marketing strategies to attract tourists who will visit the region for the 2010 World Cup soccer finals.

The commission has taken a determined business-like approach through measures that envisaged to result in the optimum utilisation of natural resources under its management, mainly in forestry.

Forestry Commission public relations officer Mr Wellington Kamuruko yesterday said the organisation had adopted an aggressive marketing strategy to increase its annual revenue.

"We are targeting the World Cup which the region is hosting and we have so far put on the table the need to create a website from where tourists can easily get information about us," Mr Kamuruko said.

He said the forestry authority was also showcasing its services at various regional and international forums as one of its marketing strategies.

The Forestry Commission generates up to US$400 000 a year from its four hunting camps under Ngamo Safaris. There is immense potential for the facilities to raise over US$1 million if operations are properly managed and infrastructure improved.

"We are in the process of working together with some of our subsidiaries such as Gwayi Sawmill and Timber retail outlets in the country's provinces to pool our resources and have the infrastructure at Lupane's Amandundumela, Intundla, Mubiya and Hwange's Kazuma refurbished."

Mr Kamuruko said photographic sites, namely Ganda in Hwange and Jafuta in Victoria Falls, were also a major priority for the planned sprucing-up.

He said the forestry authority was also holding various meetings with other stakeholders in related business to exchange ideas and establish how best they could collectively market the country's resources.

"We acknowledged during the just-ended strategic meeting with various stakeholders that we were not doing enough in terms of marketing and creating serious partnerships in the country. We are, therefore, changing our focus and rebranding our services," Mr Kamuruko said.

Like the Parks and Wildlife Management Authority, the Forestry Commission comprises four divisions: research, conservation, training and hunting, the latter operating as Ngamo Safaris.

The research and training divisions were originally established in 1954 with the mandate to serve the forestry sector in Zimbabwe and the region.

Environment and Tourism Minister Cde Francis Nhema said Zimbabwe's forestry industry remained one of the most important economic pillars from which a significant amount of foreign currency was generated.

"The Forestry Company of Zimbabwe has opened up offices within the region because there is high demand for our timber which makes proper management of our forests critical."

Cde Nhema said the sustainability and conservation of forests was a major concern in light of uncontrolled fires that continued to destroy huge tracts of forests, in particular in the timber-rich Manicaland Province.

"We need to step up efforts to protect our forests. It is not only the mandate of the Forestry Commission, but of us all to see how best we can protect this important resource."

He said major tourist attractions are found in thickets which are habitats of varieties of animal and bird species.

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