Thupeyo Muleya in Beitbridge
THE annual three nations’ Tour de Tuli tourism expedition roared into life yesterday with visitors drawn from different countries across the globe participating.
The event is held in the Greater Mapungubwe Transfrontier Conservation Area (GMTFCA), a mega park that links Zimbabwe, Botswana and South Africa. The park is located on the western part of Beitbridge. It comprises the Northern Tuli Game Reserve (Botswana), Tuli National Park and Maramani Communal lands (Zimbabwe) and the Mapungubwe National Park (South Africa).
The expedition involves mountain bike tours and seeks to market the GMTFCA as one of the best tourist resorts in the Sadc region and is running until July 28. The cyclists pass through three countries in the course of the event.
The participants were drawn from countries like the United States of America, Angola, Botswana, South Africa, Australia, Belgium, Brazil, Britain, Canada, France, Germany, Ireland, Italy, Netherlands, New Zealand, Spain, Sri Lanka, Sweden and Zimbabwe.
The event, which is in its 15th year running and 10th time since Zimbabwe joined in 2009, is jointly organised by the three governments.
Zimbabwe Tourism Authority (ZTA) spokesperson Mr Godfrey Koti said in a statement yesterday that a huge contingent of tourists would enter Zimbabwe from South Africa and leave on Thursday for Botswana.
“The tour combines a lifetime adventure, amazing scenery and a pristine wildlife as cyclists ride between 60 to 80km a day around the Tuli circle. Cycling has been an adventure with a purpose, managing to raise funds for Children in the Wilderness, which centres on skills such as team building, leadership, communication, HIV/Aids prevention, health and nutrition, and literacy, while also teaching children about tracking, conservation, anti-poaching, geography, and geology,” said Mr Koti.
“Tour de Tuli over the years has hosted business executives, tourism journalists and opinion leaders who, to a destination such as Zimbabwe, are important stakeholders that contribute immensely to destination perception management.”
ZTA’s chief operating officer, Mr Givemore Chidzidzi, said Zimbabwe was one of the few African countries working on opening up more opportunities for international travel programmes.
He said the country has been receiving a number of awards in recognition of its efforts in boosting tourism development.
“Active participation in sporting activities such as the Tour de Tuli ride is one of many ways in which people choose to experience places and people as part of tourism practices.
“We are one of the few African countries working to open up more opportunities for international travel and we are very excited by the endorsement we have received so far by being conferred with international awards,” he said.
“We do hope that the international participants of Tour de Tuli will also contribute positively through telling a Zimbabwean story when they return to their countries.”