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JUST IN: Victoria Falls SMEs honored

THE tourism industry has honoured small tourism enterprises in Victoria Falls for their role in enhancing the tourism ecosystem as well as creating job opportunities.

Through the Zimbabwe Tourism Authority (ZTA) and its partners, the Ministry of Environment, Climate, Tourism and Hospitality Industry, has supported the initiative by the International Finance Corporation (IFC) under the Zimbabwe ‘destination development programme’.

This saw the creation of a competition called “20 for 20”, which sought to identify 20 promising small businesses that are adding value by bringing a diverse authentic experience to Victoria Falls.

These should be small players that make significant contributions to the growth of tourism and the country in general.

Over the years tourism SMEs have complained about being left out in tourism programming.

A ceremony to honour the “Small and Mighty” small and medium enterprises (SMEs) was held on Wednesday last week in Victoria Falls.

Chief director in the Ministry of Environment and Tourism, Dr Douglas Runyowa, said the Government recognises the importance of small enterprise to the tourism ecosystem/He said SMEs have been instrumental in job-creation, entrepreneurship and driving sustainable development.

“We are delighted to celebrate these small businesses tonight as we recognize that there is still a lot more to be done to support SMEs in the tourism sector. We prioritized their support in our National Tourism Recovery and Growth Strategy, committing to support small players with training, skills upgrades, and access to markets,” he said.

“Exactly a year ago, we ran a small competition in Victoria Falls, under a destination development programme supported by IFC. The competition was called ’20 for 20’ and aimed to find 20 promising small businesses who were adding value by bringing a diverse, authentic experience to Victoria Falls.

“These businesses would win marketing material in the form of 20 professional photos, a promotional video, a year’s listing on the itinerary-building platform Wetu, and representation through Boundless Southern Africa at several virtual trade shows in the region,” said Dr Runyowa.

He said businesses would win marketing material in the form of 20 professional photos, a promotional video and a year’s listing on the itinerary building platform.

The winners were drawn from canoeing expeditions, horse safaris, accommodation, guides, astronomers, village and community tours and others.

The competition was run in partnership with Boundless Southern Africa and coordinated by ‘We Are Victoria Falls Initiative’.

It was open to all small tourism businesses and entrepreneurs in Victoria Falls with a diversity of products, strong market appeal and growth potential.

It also coincided with a tour of Victoria Falls and Hwange by local and regional journalists sponsored by Fastjet and Boundless Southern Africa and ‘We are Victoria Falls’.

Fastjet digital content and media officer Mr Nunurai Ndawana encouraged small businesses to believe in themselves, saying the airliner is also a small business but with mighty ambitions.

Victoria Falls Campaign coordinator Ms Shelly Cox said the initiative will help enhance a bright future for tourism.

Victoria Falls Mayor Councillor Somveli Dlamini encouraged the mainstream tourism industry to embrace and capacitate SMEs.

“As we look forward to the future with many planned developments afoot, we must do all we can to foster inclusivity and make sure that growth benefits us all,” said Cllr Dlamini.

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