Kamata Base camp structures for special crafts produced by a network of Tonga women. The crafts are made of ilala harvested from the wild. The range of crafts depicts the Tonga culture wares. A new range of products is also being developed in line with the contemporary market tastes although the weave pattern has largely remained uniquely Tonga.
Management of the Facility: The center operates as registered Trust and has a board of management consisting of eight women who are all craft producers. The centre ensures that members are also equipped with the knowledge of the roles of the board. Those who lead clubs are trained in the art of running the affairs of the clubs. The center employs a manager and assistant who oversee the day to day management of the center, marketing and product development. Infrastructure – The center consists of two buildings, the craft retailing outlet/showroom and a storeroom. The structures are in a fairly well maintained. Accommodation – the center only hosts walk in visitors who are interested in buying crafts.
Access – The center is easily accessible as it is located right in the center of Binga town which is accessible by road or by boat.
Amenities – n/a
Attractions – The craft center products have been a source of attraction for tourists who are their major customers locally. Some lodges in Binga have the Binga Craft Centre pamphlet that advertises the products readily available for tourists.
Activities – the center offers an exclusive Tonga craft shopping experience.
Awareness – the center is well publicized and marketed especially through internet and tourism information centers. The management team also participates widely in national, regional and international exhibitions. The women also receive training in quality control and the exquisite products that they produce evince this. Management: The centre has a board of management consisting of eight women who are all basket producers, the centre ensures that members are also equipped with the knowledge of the roles of the board. Those who lead clubs are trained in the art of running the affairs of the clubs. On a day to day basis, the center is managed by a manager cum project coordinator and a marketing assistant.
Main Challenges: There are a number of challenges that the centre faces: These are:
(i) Low number of visitors coming to the center. Nearly all visitors to Binga pass through this center – the limited activities and visitor services within Binga restrict the potential that the center has to grow as a major tourist center within the town.
(ii) The center does not have a strategy in place to financially sustain the facility. Although market linkages have been established, the management lacks capacity to mobilize women to meet the market demand. The women need more money to fund clubs and to assist the women in the villages.
(iii) The women need protection from unscrupulous dealers. Sometimes people take advantage of some of these women particularly during hard times. They swap cheap commodities such as sugar and soap for their expensive craft that they later resell for a killing outside the country. This is exploitation and it kills the value of the Binga art.
Future Prospects: The development of the community based tourism facility depends upon two main scenarios. The first one is the recovery of the tourism industry in Zimbabwe. This will certainly increase visitors to Binga area. The second one is the centre’s export product and market development strategy which, if appropriately developed and implemented, will increase demand of crafts from the area. Currently Binga is in partnership with the New Basket Workshop through which new designs and markets are being pursued.