Preparations for the inaugural Harare International Carnival have begun in earnest with the Zimbabwe Tourism Authority already mobilising support and sponsorship from both private and public sectors to ensure the successful hosting of the event. Already dates have been set, routes identified and more than 15 invited countries are already planning on how they intend to enthrall Zimbabweans at this festival of colours, steel band music, dance, an array of different ethnic food and art fest that is expected to rock the country for a good seven days.
The international carnival will take place from May 21 to May 26.
Among other events that are expected to ignite a revelling mood among people would be a carnival king and queen competition, carnival comedy night, masquerade party, a gala dinner, a carnival beer festival, street match, cultural fest and the musical festival, which would be an icing on the cake.
There will also be a samba night that would feature Brazilians who are renowned samba dancers.
Apart from the DJs clash, there would also be slots for local, regional and international artistes who are expected to perform throughout the night at the National Sports Stadium, while other events have been slotted for the Harare International Conference Centre, Africa Unity Square, Harare International School, Glamis Arena and several other venues across the city.
Big international artistes' names in the mould of R Kelly, Rihanna, Chris Brown and Akon are already being thrown in the hat, although the association is yet to decide on the artiste who will serenade music lovers at the carnival.
ZTA chief operating officer Givemore Chidzidzi said apart from promoting local arts, craft and a celebration of life, a carnival was a good tool for branding tourism products dotted across the country.
"We have been toying around with the idea since 2011 after we attended the inaugural Carnival International de Victoria, held in Seychelles, which is now in its third year and seems to be doing well.
"As a country we have a lot more to gain from this initiative, which we are also hoping to make an annual event once it successfully takes off in a few months time.
"All over the world, people are now making use of events like these as a way of attracting traffic and keep their business flourishing throughout the year.
"It is therefore important for the business sector and other partners to take advantage of the business that will be generated by the event, which will be graced by 15 countries across the globe," he said.
Some of the countries that have already confirmed their participation include Seychelles, Brazil, Mauritius and Zambia.
Generally, carnivals are creative art forms, aesthetic and dramatic spectacles as well as entertainment presentations on a mass level usually celebrated annually in many countries across the globe.
Cultural festivals and international events have become focus areas of promoting large cities and remote villages making them world popular cultural tourism destinations.
Experience from the Seychelles Carnival, Nottingham, London and Rio de Jenairo in Brazil which were attended by representatives from Zimbabwe are clear testimonies that the carnival, if well organised, can play a pivotal role in profiling the country as a preferred destination, particularly focusing on tourism development.