‘World’s Best Destination’
‘World’s Best Destination’
BY HELEN PATCHETT
Zimbabwe has been voted ‘World’s Best Tourist Destination’ for 2014 by the European Council on Tourism and Trade. The ECTT is one of the largest institutes in the European Union that promotes tourism to international destinations and rates among the most reputable in the world. This accolade affirms that Zimbabwe embodies a large proportion of the virtues it champions. The immensely successful United Nations World Tourism Organisation General Assembly held last year in Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe, and Livingstone, Zambia, spotlighted the attractions of this region and the exposure has undoubtedly contributed to Zimbabwe’s success.
The recognition is welcome for Zimbabwe. Throughout challenging times over the past decade, the tireless work of many companies and individuals has kept its vibrant tourist industry running. Product development, maintenance and marketing have been ongoing, keeping Zimbabwean offerings at the forefront among African tourism destinations.
The ECTT places importance on such attributes as sites of natural beauty, wilderness and prolific wildlife, ecotourism, adventure sports and safety records and high standards in the hospitality industry, in all of which facets Zimbabwe excels. Tourist Minister Walter Mzembi commends conscientious and zealous ecotourism projects as the basis for local economic development and the country’s national parks were praised as models of achievement in ecological and green tourism. The jewel of the Victoria Falls, coupled with preservation of historical sites and cultural traditions were also noted. Added to friendly people and ideal weather, this is a formula for success.
The goal beyond this positive talk is to attract more visitors. International travel fell off during the recent recession years in the first world and for Zimbabwe there have been troubled times too. Visitors have decreased in number and local and regional tourists do not generate the revenue, or provide the much needed jobs, that high numbers of international guests do. According to the Zimbabwe Tourism Authority, figures for international visitors first exceeded a million in 1994 and increased steadily, but started to decline from 2004. There has since been a resurgence and in 2011 numbers rose to 2.4million, however only a small percentage of these came in on international flights.
Back in the late 1990s, the South African Tourism Board stated that for every tourist visiting South Africa, ten jobs were created. If Zimbabwe can reduce unemployment thus, it would help sustain many more families and communities and assist economic growth within its borders. If the ECTT publicity attracts more foreign tourists, the snowball effect will help maintain Zimbabwe’s position of excellence on the world travel stage and usher back the good times of a few years ago.
More from the Zambezi Traveller:
Victoria Falls Destination Profile