THE Zimbabwe Tourism Authority (ZTA) has received a bail-out from government to save Sanganai/Hlanganani World Tourism Expo.
The organisation told media early this year that the annual tourism fair had been suspended owing to lack of funds. ZTA was owing service provider $150,000 for services provided during the last edition.
However, ZTA chief executive officer Karikoga Kaseke said government has disbursed funds to offset the debt and allow for preparations to commence.
"The new development has been prompted by the commitment made by the government to fund the expo and also to pay all the debts that were incurred during previous edition of Sanganai/Hlanganani Expo," Karikoga said in a statement last week.
"In a meeting held between the ZTA and the Ministry of Finance on the 11th of April 2017, officials from the Ministry of Finance and Economic Development did not only commit to fund Sanganai 2017 but they have already disbursed funds for us to pay all the service providers who supplied goods and services to Sanganai last year but were still being owed by the ZTA.
"The Ministry of Finance has also provided us with enough funds to start preparations for Sanganai/Hlanganani this year's edition of the expo."
Dates have been pushed forward to 27 to 30 September 2017 in Bulawayo at the Zimbabwe International Trade Fair to allow for adequate preparations and marketing of the event.
The tourism sector is estimated to be contributing about 11 percent to the national gross domestic product and tourism minister Walter Mzembi has set an ambitious target of a $5 billion tourism economy by 2020.
According to Kaseke, this year the country has set a buyers' criteria to ensure exhibitors from Zimbabwe and the Southern African region have higher chances of striking lucrative deals.
"We have put in place a well-considered and stringent selection benchmark for buyer participation that ensures the premier tourism show attracts only high profile international buyers," Kaseke said.
The UNWTO recognised Travel Fair brings together tourism players from across the globe to network and put also puts the region's tourism on the global radar.
"As we speak more than one third of the exhibition space has already been taken by both local and international exhibitors, a good sign that the business world continue to see value in the fair.
"A number of foreign exhibitors have already registered, notably those representing South Africa, Malawi, Botswana, Zambia, Namibia and Mozambique," he said.
This year's event will mark the 10th Anniversary of Sanganai/Hlanganani and the ZTA will honour loyal exhibitors and partners.