ZIMBABWE Tourism Authority (ZTA) participated at the Meetings Show London in the United Kingdom, from 29-30 June, as the tourism body sought to place Zimbabwe on the map as a preferred destination for Meetings, Incentives, Conferences, and Exhibitions (MICE) tourism.
Meetings Show London is one of the leading business tourism fairs globally where tourism associations, conference organisers, meeting planners, convention bureaus, exhibition coordinators and buyers meet to generate networks and business leads.
ZTA's participation follows the successful launch of the MICE campaign "MeetInZim", which was aimed at engaging with the UK's MICE agents in order to attract event organisers to hold their meetings in the country.
The UK is one of the prime source markets for the country's MICE industry.
MICE tourism is a provision that is designed for large groups of people who convene for particular purposes mainly business, it is a niche market and a big moneymaker in the travel and tourism industry.
The participation of Zimbabwe, through ZTA, at the exhibition was meant to reposition the country on the global tourism map given the negative impact of Covid-19 pandemic on the industry, which saw a big shift towards virtual meetings.
The tourism body has lately identified strategic business shows which provide platforms for engagements with the intention to generate new MICE sales leads for the country's tourism products.
The newly appointed ZTA chief executive Winnie Muchanyuka said she will be working closely with international partners with a view to capitalising and promoting foreign interest in Zimbabwe's travel and tourism, particularly the meetings industry.
She indicated that the local tourism industry was one of the highly conducive destinations in Southern Africa where meeting organisers are guaranteed successful meetings and treasured memories as Zimbabwe is a safe vacation destination.
"The ZTA will be engaging with the international community in an effort to bring MICE events into Zimbabwe, a World of Wonders.
"MICE tourism development and promotion requires active participation by all tourism players and support services suppliers to engage the international market and association pool if we are to attract the large number of conferences needed by the destination," said Ms Muchanyuka.
Zimbabwe's launch of the "MeetInZim" campaign in Europe was designed to build new and strengthen old partnerships with the United Kingdom using the country as the gateway to African trade, investment and tourism development opportunities.
Hospitality Association Zimbabwe (HAZ) president, Mr Farai Chiimba, said marketing the country for MICE was highly beneficial to the country's tourism sector and other related economic sectors.
"MICE drives large numbers of tourists into any destination, it is quite significant in driving traffic into hotels and this always has a spillover effect into the transport and aviation sectors, because to get to a destination you need to fly or drive, which means spill over to other value chains in the economy.
"If you look at the likes of indabas, meetings of world bodies like the United Nations, Olympic Committee and events like the Vic Falls marathon and carnival they promote incomes of tourist destinations, much better if attended by international guests," said Mr Chiimba.
Africa is fast establishing itself as an upcoming MICE destination and this is evidenced by the formation of National Convention Bureaus across Africa and their presence at international MICE shows.
This is to position African countries as suitable for hosting business tourism.
The MICE industry which has been identified as a key in tourism recovery vehicles thrives on international memberships as these give access to international events that can be attracted to the destination, translating into international arrivals.