Zimbabwe has stepped up its engagement with the International Tourism Bourse (ITB Berlin) in a strategy that seeks to make the country a top of the mind business and leisure destination in Southern Africa.

ITB Berlin, which began on Wednesday and runs through the weekend – is the world’s leading travel trade show, and a major tourist source market for Africa, attracting over 185 countries, 900 top buyers, 10 000 exhibitors, and 185 000 convention visitors.

Tourism minister Prisca Mupfumira told African journalists and participants that Zimbabwe was poised for a quantum leap in the tourism sector and urged the local operators to prepare for a tourism boom.

Mupfumira said Zimbabwe had suffered from its past image and the recovery strategy seeks to portray Zimbabwe as Africa’s tourism “poster boy”. She said since the new dispensation led by President Emmerson Mnangagwa, the world was eager to engage Zimbabwe resulting in the launch of her engagement symposiums in various tourism source markets in South Africa, Britain and Europe.

Some 23 local tourism players, keen to reposition Zimbabwe as the foremost and must visit tourism destination, are exhibiting at the ITB Berlin Zimbabwe stand as opposed to individual exhibitors in previous years.

These include Rainbow Tourism Group, The Victoria Falls Hotel, Wilderness Safaris, Zimbabwe Parks and Wildlife Management Authority, Cresta Hospitality Group, Southern African Touring Services (SATS), Africa Travel Tours, Legacy Hotels and Resorts, Off2 Africa, Skylark Tours, African Sun and African Travel and Tourism Association among others.

Zimbabwe Tourism Authority chief executive Karikoga Kaseke was eager that Zimbabwe takes advantage of the goodwill the new government enjoys and aggressively push Destination Zimbabwe in major source markets.

Sats chief executive officer, Martin Mashingaidze, however, said there was need for a paradigm shift by the tourism sector enablers in order to effectively implement the tourism sector recovery strategy as the country seeks to reclaim its lost glory.

Germany is ranked as the second highest generator of arrivals from Europe into Zimbabwe after the Britain, contributing nearly 38 000 arrivals last year, a 29% increase from the previous the year