Address by the ZTA Board Chairman Mr Ray Mawerera on the Tourism Innovation Challenge

Address by the ZTA Board Chairman Mr Ray Mawerera on the Tourism Innovation Challenge during the World Tourism Day 2021 Celebrations held yesterday at Paradise Pools Resort, Bindura.It gives me great honour to address you today as we celebrate the World Tourism Day. As already this year’s theme is “Tourism for Inclusive Growth”, celebrating tourism’s ability to drive inclusive development and promoting respect while generating opportunities for many millions across the globe. The theme dovetails with the Tourism Innovation Challenge, which seeks to drive digital transformation within the tourism sector. Digital transformation has changed the operating landscape of the various sectors of our economy and as such those that have not jumped onto this bus, face the risk of being left in the back pages of the history books. The last two years have taught us that digital transformation plays a key role in the way business is done today and in the future. The COVID-19 pandemic has brought forward technologies that were thought to take off in the next five years. Today most operations are done on the digital playing field. The buzz words these days are online, digital, real-time and virtual. The future is now and we need to up our tech game as a sector and the nation at large. As we strive to realise our National Vision – To be an upper middle-income economy by 2030, it is imperative that technological innovations and digital transformation are the core of the various strategies being implemented in the tourism sector, including the National Tourism Recovery and Growth Strategy. In playing its leadership role in the Tourism Sector, the Zimbabwe Tourism Authority sought to harness the creative energies of young local entrepreneurs and start-ups to find the next big idea that will help the Tourism Sector and keep it up to date with the ever-changing digital trends. Thus the introduction the Tourism Innovation Challenge which seeks to promote and support innovative ideas by the youth. The initiative targeted innovators aged 25 and below in an effort to encourage university leavers to start their own businesses. This is also part of implementing Government’s thrust on youth empowerment.
The Zimbabwe Tourism Authority called for expression of interest, on the Tourism Innovation challenge. A total of 61 fully completed submissions from across the country were received and 10 projects were shortlisted for the final stage where the young innovators participated in virtual pitch sessions.
The projects were judged on:
a) Relevance: Does the project address any tourism need or problem.
b) Impact: To what extent will the project have an impact on improving or enhancing tourism business.
c) Sustainability: Can the project self-finance in the long term.
No idea was thought to be outrageous but, in any competition, there could only be one winner. The winning project will undergo an incubation and mentorship programme for a period of 3 months and will also be granted seed capital of USD5000.00 or its equivalent in Zimbabwean dollars. Judging by the passion and enthusiasm displayed by our young innovators, indeed the future is bright and it is in good hands. Allow me to thank our partners, Old Mutual Zimbabwe, Gateway Stream, Technical Systems (TechSys), Afrosoft and Pamushana Africa Group who played a strategic and technical role in ensuring that we get to this stage. The Tourism Innovation Challenge is not going to be a once off competition, but is now an annual event. It is our hope that the second edition of the challenge will be bigger and will attract more participants, partners and sponsors.

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