Victoria, Seychelles — Zimbabwe will host its first international carnival in May, expecting to attract many from the world tourism family, as the country strengthens its cultural and tourism brand - "Zimbabwe: A World of Wonders".
The Harare International Carnival will run from May 22-29 and countries are expected to showcase their cultural tapestries through traditional cuisines, dance, historical artefacts and street performances.
The climax of the carnival will be the Tourism Night - a musical gala - in the National Sports Stadium.
The event will feature a yet-to-be-announced big international musician, some regional musicians and an array of local artists.
Names that are being touted include America's R&B singer R Kelly, Rihanna, Chris Brown, Nigeria's D'Banj, Lady Gaga and possibly the return of Akon.
Zambia's Mampi, who collaborated with Rockford Josphats, is also expected to be a supporting act.
Brazilians touted for their salsa and samba dances will be at the carnival.
In an interview on the sidelines of Carnival International de Victoria, Zimbabwe Tourism Authority chief executive Karikoga Kaseke said the Harare International Carnival was born out of the need to consolidate the country's tourism brand and enhance interaction between Zimbabwe and other countries.
"We have taken a leaf from the Carnival International de Victoria and want to take the concept back home.
"We need to continuously enhance our interaction with other countries for us to further push our tourism brand through different initiatives.
"We have deliberately chosen May because that is the period when business is usually low in the tourism and hospitality sector in the country and we really want to increase business during this period," he said.
Kaseke, however, dispelled the notion that the carnival was one of the many events that the country was hosting as a build-up to the UNWTO General Assembly.
"We don't want people to have the impression that all events that we are doing are pointing to the UNWTO.
"This event has got nothing to do with the general assembly that is why it is being held in Harare.
"Victoria Falls will have its own carnival, because what the town held recently was not a carnival, but it was a mini festival. In any case, the UNWTO should not be the beginning and end of everything.
"Other events that we have been holding in the industry should just go ahead as usual, and we must not lose sight that we are a tourism destination and we have the mandate to continuously promote it," he said.