IN the past decade, Zimbabwe went on a charm offensive to market and promote its tourists resorts -- natural or man-made. Year in year out, Zimbabwe has left footprints in Africa and beyond, thanks to the Zimbabwe Tourism Authority's perception management programme. Also thanks to the foothold of the Celebrity Host programme.
This time around, Zimbabwe has been awarded the most sought after prize -- the Top Emerging Travel Destination of 2012 -by the Travel and Leisure magazine of China.
The award is highly regarded in Asia and beyond and with it comes endorsement of the winning country as a safe and attractive tourist destination.
That Zimbabwe emerged the winner in a process that included competition from various destinations across the globe, from Africa to Europe and the Americas, speaks volumes of the great job done to market Zimbabwe, under the new brand "Zimbabwe - A World of Wonders".
The announcement was made recently at a ceremony held in Beijing, China, where Ambassador Frederick Shava represented Zimbabwe.
Of great importance is that in its citation on Zimbabwe, the awarding authority noted that the selection campaign, which took place in mainland China, Taiwan and Hong Kong and Macau overseas in the past year, featured recommendations by a wide range of readers, and a survey by editors and journalists.
The processes also included experience by frequent guests and comprehensive assessments by authoritative experts. ZTA chief executive Karikoga Kaseke believes this is another milestone and achievement by the destination.
"We are naturally gratified by this achievement which comes at the back of concerted efforts by the ZTA of consolidating our tourism market share not only in Asia but even in traditional markets by continuously changing their perceptions of our country.
"Zimbabwe has won numerous accolades before but this particular one from the media is indicative of the dividends being paid by our destination marketing strategies as underpinned by the Destination Image Transformation Programme," he says.
Some of the programmes employed by the ZTA in its concerted efforts of tackling the negative perceptions in the source markets include the hosting of the international media on familiarisation tours, Goodwill Ambassadorial programme, Celebrity Host, participation at international travel fairs and roadshows.
Looking back, Zimbabwe has travelled a long painful road in marketing its tourist resorts and the award comes at a time when Zimbabwe is preparing to host the United Nations World Tourism Organisation general Assembly in August.
The latest accolade is no doubt a brand endorsement of Zimbabwe's efforts to make it among the world's best and safest tourist destinations.