HomeBusiness DigestCresta Column - Promoting tourism without boundaries

Cresta Column – Promoting tourism without boundaries

By Tom Chuma

Globalisation repre-sents a fundamental old age human drive, the drive for sustenance, improvement, prosperity and modernisation.

ca, sans-serif”>As it is played out, today’s globalisation system represents the burgeoning global markets, financial institutions and computer technologies with which we pursue higher living standards today. The biggest challenge we face comes from the anonymous, transnational, homogenising, standardising market forces and technologies that make up today’s globalising economic system.

There are some things about this system that can make these forces so overpowering it can overrun and overwhelm us resulting in broken down communities, steam-rolling environments and loss of culture. But there are other things about the system that empowers even the smallest, weakest community to actually use the new technologies and market their culture and identity. The challenge in this era of globalisation for countries and individuals is to find a healthy balance between preserving a sense of identity, home and community and doing what it takes to survive within the globalisation system. A country without a healthy foundation never feels rooted or secure enough to open up fully to the world and reach out into it. In the context of the Southern African Development Community (Sadc), our country is a signatory to several protocols, among them the protocols on tourism and transportation.

A regional body, the Regional Tourism Organisation of Southern Africa (Retosa), had been set up to spearhead the marketing of the region.

The leaders see the huge potential and synergies that come with a coordinated approach that recognises the collective strength of the region. Victoria Falls, because of its status as one of the seven wonders of the world, a Unesco World Heritage site, and its unique location in the centre of one of the world’s largest and scenically beautiful wildlife areas, is well placed to play a leading role to the benefit of all neighbours.

Regionally, Victoria Falls can operate as a gateway that is within two hours by road or by air of the major attractions, namely Hwange National Park in Zimbabwe, Chobe National Park and the Okavango Delta in Botswana, The Caprivi in Namibia and the Kafue National Park in Zambia.

However, some of the policies and practices on the ground do not lend themselves to promoting these synergies. In reality each country is trying to out-do the other by placing stumbling blocks in an effort to protect and promote their attractions. A tourist traveling within the region will face various visa regimes, and if they are driving various road levies.

Tour operators, service providers and even investors will find themselves having to fulfill a whole range of regulations and processes that only hamper efficient operations. Globally, the market is now demanding a seamless service.

In other parts of the world barriers are coming down, whereas in Africa, it is the opposite. A freer operating environment is likely to bring more tourists to the region and ultimately benefit all concerned. That is probably a long-term perspective that must be balanced with the short-term realities facing businesses and governments of the con-cerned countries. However, in all we do we should endeavor not to sacrifice the real future benefits on the altar of the expedient by promoting and protecting our own countries while opportunities to exploit and embrace globalisation await us.

* Tom Chuma is vice president of the Zimbabwe Council forTourism. E-mail: canoeing@mweb.co.zw or marketing@cresta.co.zw

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