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Cresta column

Promoting Zim – with food and beverage

By Tapuwa Nduku

THERE are numerous ways to promote tourism and one such method has been the use of food and beverage.

FONT face=”Verdana, Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif”>The United Kingdom’s BBC has made waves in the world sponsoring and airing shows such as Ainsley’s Ready Steady Cook and Jamie Oliver’s Naked Chef.

Regionally South Africa is well-known for its wine festivals and locally themed restaurants (Xhosa restaurants).

Although Zimbabwe has an opportunity to use this channel, there is a need for the hospitality and tourism industry to agree as one voice.

At a meeting held recently, Video Promotions, a local filming company proposed to produce a 13-series edition of a Zimbabwean Food and Beverage show that will initially air in Zimbabwe and upon signing agreement with MultiChoice Africa, may then be aired on Mnet Africa.

The cost of filming the 13-part series approximates to $200 million exclusive of transport and accommodation to locations out of Harare.

The idea, although noble, requires further thought and should involve the industry at large (food and beverage suppliers, hotel groups, tour operators and Air Zimbabwe). The aim of the programme will be to travel to memorable and interesting areas in Zimbabwe, film the different cultures and different methods of cooking food using the basics (for example firewood, earthen ovens, and roasting on a spit).

Although we undoubtedly have the culinary expertise to prepare international cuisine such as Italian or French dishes, most tourists are not likely to travel all the way to Africa to sample food that is readily available in their own countries.

lStill on the topic of food and beverage, the annual chef’s com-petition is set for July 10. This event has been on the calendar of events for a number of years. However, the publicity received to-date has been less than encouraging.

This event could be a starting point for Zimbabwe to expand on and in conjunction with other African countries to formulate a regional competition.

Such a programme could bring opportunities to further strengthen destination-marketing initiatives. At present, there are a lot of discussions regarding the packaging of Zimbabwe, South Africa and Botswana as one southern African destination.

In addition the Great Limpopo Transfrontier Park establishment, which will span over South Africa’s Kruger National Park, Mozambique’s Limpopo National Park and the Gonarezhou National Park in Zimbabwe, could be piggybacked on to provide the three countries with the opportunity to host an annual borderless fete/feast in the park attracting a large number of international and regional tourists.

To imagine such a festival/fete, one only needs to picture a large expanse of untamed land, where game meat is cooked over a spit, or in Zimbabwean earthern ovens, providing the guests with an array of diverse African cuisine. Dance troupes, folklore tellers, sangomas and uniquely African products could be on display.

Although this may seem surreal, we need only look to the Ghanaians who have managed to achieve such an annual festival. Another way to promote local cuisine has already begun with Zimbabweans residing the world over exporting Zimbabwean products such as the local fresh juices, game biltong, and maputi through locally named shops.

A number of restaurants are now found in the UK, a few in Canada and some American states, where Zimbabwean cuisine is served with menus reflecting names of the dishes in vernacular and a brief explanation of the dish below.

The challenge now is to tally all the various activities and sell to the world as a total package, through the use of existing websites, television programmes and other such media.

A lesson learnt from our neighbour South Africa is that only when a nation speaks with one voice to achieve a common purpose can there be complete comprehension leading to great achievement and success, like winning the 2010 bid, which has no doubt served to strengthen South Africa’s tourism.

Valued readers, Cresta Hos-pitality marks the end of a year’s sponsorship of the Hospitality and Tourism Review column, which will now be featured monthly.

In order to provide a forum for discussion, we once again invite editorial contributions. We take this opportunity to thank constructive contributions from you the readers, Tom Chuma representing ZCT, Francis Ngwenya representing HAZ and various other industry members.

The hospitality and tourism industry is substantial and editorial contributions from ZTA, the travel trade, restaurant associations, conferencing Zimbabwe and so forth are most welcome.

To send editorial input or feedback e.mail: marketing@cresta.co.zw or fax +263 (4) 446008

* Tapuwa Nduku – Cresta Hos-pitality Zimbabwe’s marketing manager, prepared these articles.

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