Talking about the importance of the Indian market, Karikoga Kaseke, Chief Executive, Zimbabwe Tourism Authority, says that on the behest of the tourism industry the country will now be offering visa on arrival to Indians by the end of 2017.
PRITI KHANNA FROM ZIMBABWE
Q What is the significance of the Sanganai World Tourism Expo which is in its 10th year now? How has it helped to get business for Zimbabwe?
The Sanganai World Tourism Expo is like any other travel fair or exposition. It is very much like the fair in previous years. It gives us an opportunity to put people under one roof so that buyers and media can meet the sellers and exhibitors easily. The significance can be explained from a marketing perspective. It is a marketing platform that has done well in putting Zimbabwe on the world map.
Q Have you in any way monitored the growth of the business of exhibitors?
We have done that but not very accurately or very well. We are now moving into the mode to monitor more rigorously not only the value of the show but also the buyers we bring to the show.
Q How big is the India market for Zimbabwe?
India for us is a very big market. We are aware that the major issue with India has been the visa processing. Indians are currently under the ‘C’ Category. I am happy to inform you that they are now going to be moved to the ‘B’ Category. This proposal is awaiting implementation and likely to be implemented by the government by the end of this year. We have been fighting for this and are happy that on being moved to Category ‘B’ every Indian will get a visa on arrival. This should get us more traf- fic from India. We need to do a lot of things in the Indian market to gain more footfall. We have to put in more efforts in marketing Zimbabwe to the Indian market.
Q Other than the visa is there any other strategy to promote Zimbabwe in India?
From what I know, Indians tend to travel with families or in groups. We need to target these groups by talking to outbound travel operators in India and ask them to get groups to Zimbabwe. We are also aware that food is important for visitors from India. In every town in Zimbabwe we have many Indian restaurants. These may not be authentic Indian food but are pretty close to it. We also need to catch up with other cultural aspects in preparation for the Indian market.
Q How big is the role of the travel agent, especially now that people tend to have access to lots of information online with regard to travelling to any destination?
Travel agents play a significant role despite the various options available online. Travel agents are in a better position to arrange a good tour and itinerary. Trust is a huge component when investing in a trip and an established travel agent provides that assurance. In my opinion, a travel agent’s role can never be replaced.
Q Which city in India currently is your biggest source market?
India as a whole is doing very well. We are very active in the Indian market. We are concentrating not only in the big cities and metros but other cities too as India is a huge country.
Q Are there any other roadblocks for Indians to travel to Zimbabwe other than the visa issue?
Visa is the starting point. Once the ‘B’ Category visa is in place, we hope things will change for the better. Given the vastness and size of India, visitors coming to Zimbabwe from any part of India will make a big difference.
Q Any specific strategy overall and for India for the current financial year?
We shall conduct a vigorous Zimbabwe campaign in India next year so that people get to know our country well along with the significant attractions it has to offer. We are looking at targeting a more specific market that includes South Africa, China, India and two other countries.