Panda Africa, one of the leading tourism wholesalers into Africa based in Hong Kong, which currently is only packaging Victoria Falls as an add-on destination to South Africa, has committed to expand the packaging of Zimbabwe attractions. Speaking at a meeting held at the Zimbabwe Consulate in Hong Kong with the Deputy Minister of Tourism and Hospitality Industry, Honourable Anastancia Ndhlovu, the Managing Director for Panda Africa, Ms. Celia Chan said that increased diversified packaging with an expanded geographical spread will see tourists from Hong Kong and mainland China increase their lengths of stay from about 2 days 1 night to about 4 days and 3 nights. This will be made possible by packaging more tourism products including culture and heritage, village tours and wildlife conservation tours, focusing on such attractions as the Medieval Ancient City of Great Zimbabwe, Matopos, Hwange National Park and the Majestic Victoria Falls.
Reaffirming the new developments, Ms Chan said, “Tourists from this region are now more discerning and would need more than Victoria Falls and wildlife in their itinerary. The packaging of additional experiential products including village tours, arts, culture and heritage, as Panda does in other destinations such as South Africa, Kenya, Rwanda and Tanzania, will enable tourists not only to connect with destination Zimbabwe, but also to increase their length of stay”.
Ms Chan also underscored the need for efficient tourist facilitation at the point of entry. Speaking about travel facilitation, the Deputy Minister Hon Anastancia Ndhlovu said, “The Government of Zimbabwe attaches great importance to the Chinese market including the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region. The review of the visa regime from category C to B for tourists travelling in groups booked through designated tour operators and travel agents, as well as business people, is expected to go a long way in facilitating tourist traffic as they will now be able to obtain visas on arrival in Zimbabwe. Further, the just upgraded Victoria Falls International Airport, coupled with improved destination connectivity, should go a long way in facilitating travel for tourists from China and Hong Kong, going forward”, she said.
The Honourable Deputy Minister concluded the meeting by extending an invitation to Panda Africa for a familiarisation tour to Zimbabwe. Panda Africa accepted the invite, as this will enable the company to have first-hand experience of the product that will see them package destination Zimbabwe from a better informed position. The familiarisation tour which is expected to be undertaken during the first quarter of 2017, will include other leading tour operators, travel agents and selected media houses from Hong Kong. This will be a build up to their participation at the Harare International Carnival and Sanganai/Hlanganani World Tourism Expo scheduled for March and June 2017, respectively.
18 October 2016
By a Special Correspondent