By Jimoh Babatunde
The efforts of the African countries to promote and market the continent’s tourism potentials under the aegis of the African Tourism promotion Initiative (ATPI) is already receiving commendation.
During the launch of the launch of the new Zimbabwe’s tourism logo at the just concluded FITUR travel fair in Madrid, Spain, Otunba Olusegun Runsewe, Director General, Nigerian Tourism Development Corporation (NTDC) the efforts make it easier to sell Africa to the world.
Otunba Runsewe, who doubles as the President of the body, said “ one of the biggest efforts that I have seen the African countries’ make was to see them take a cue from what the East European countries are doing by coming together to form a synergy to promote and market their destinations as a mega force, which the African Tourism Promotion Initiative is championing.”
Runsewe used the opportunity to praise Zimbabwe ’s efforts in its promotion of the country as a destination and also urged other African countries to emulate the effort.
In his response, the Zimbabwean Minister of Tourism, Engineer Walter Mzembi, thanked Runsewe and members of the ATPI for the identifying with his country. He said part of his promise when he assumed office as the tourism minister in 2009 was that Zimbabwe would not be a liability to African tourism products.
He said he has kept to this promise as the country has seen an appreciable rise in the number of tourist visitors.
Runsewe also said most of the negatives travel advisories on Zimbabwe that had been issued in the past had been removed. Mzembi used the opportunity to introduce the new package audio_visual to promote Zimbabwe ’s tourism. The audio_visual showed the ´Seven Wonders of Zimbabwe´ under the catchphrase: Zimbabwe, a land of Wonder.
Among those present at the occasion were Zimbabwe ’s Ambassador to France, David Hamadziripi, the tourism minister of Lesotho, the deputy tourism minister of South Africa, Mrs. Cokozile Xaxa, the African Regional Director of the United Nations World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO), Mr. Osmane Ndiaye, and many other dignitaries.
It would be recalled, the ATPI was formed in February last year by some African countries during the FITUR 2010 in Madrid and Otunba Runsewe was unanimously elected to head the body.
Speaking on the gains of the FITUR to Nigeria, Runsewe disclosed that Nigeria has come to understand the market effective and that it has used it to attract investors to Nigeria’s vast tourism potential.
“ So, we looked at sports tourism, ecotourism, cultural tourism and also educational tourism. A lot of money is being invested in these areas. So, the investors have been coming. We are quite impressed with the approach and the networking other countries are making.”
He said at the end of the fair, Nigeria and, indeed, the rest of African countries which participated in the fair, would go home with a lot of contacts and positive business discussions that could be built upon in the future. “That is what tourism fairs are all about_business contacts and networking. And as far as world tourism is concerned, with FITUR, the business of tourism for 2011 has started.”
On his effort to place Nigeria in world golf circuit, Runsewe said: ‘’A lot of people looked at golf for leisure. To be honest with you, until about three to four years ago, I didn’t realise that there is a huge amount of money involved in golf. This year alone, there is 650 million dollar in the circuit.
We need to start asking: How can Nigeria benefit from this? There is no magic about it. We have to follow the process of putting Nigeria on the map of the countries that can benefit from this.”