By Farai Matiashe

Zimbabwe is targeting to attract tourists from the Middle East by participating in the Arabian Travel Market (ATM) Fair in the United Arab Emirates.

Zimbabwe Tourism Authority acting chief executive Rita Likukuma said participating at the ATM would help market Zimbabwe in the Middle East, which has some of the leading tourism operators in the world.

“The Arabian market gives us an opportunity to rebuild the confidence in destination Zimbabwe and establishing strategic partnership with leading tourism operators, promoting packages to southern Africa and the continent at large,” she said.

Dubai Tourism director general Helal Saeed Almarri said Zimbabwe can further enhance travel experience through the use of emerging technologies.

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“The theme of the 26th edition highlights the role that technology and innovation are playing in revolutionising the travel landscape,” Almarri said.

“Dubai has already embraced a ‘digital, mobile and social first’ agenda, placing future readiness at its core and promoting the adoption of the disruptive technology to evolve its destination offering.”

Arabian Travel Market exhibition director Danielle Curtis said the travel show provides the platform for tourism players to engage while driving the development of sustainable tourism.

“The question remains, in a world of accelerating technology disruption, how can the hospitality industry continue to keep up with the rapidly evolving innovations surrounding it?

“In our effort to address this question, cutting-edge technology and innovation has been adopted as our spotlight theme for 2019 and will be integrated across all shows vertical and planned activities…identifying the top tourism trends that have the greatest growth potential is one of the most valuable insights ATM has to offer,” she said.

ZTA head of corporate affairs Godfrey Koti said: “It is our hope that we embrace the advent of technology. We have already started embarking on the journey of the digitisation of the tourism industry,” Koti said.

He added that the nation was slowly driving its strategic position towards technology because there were players who had done their best to align their strategic goals with technology adoption and encouraged those that have not started to begin to focus on such.

The ATM, which is the most established travel trade exhibition in the Middle East market, annually brings in more than 39 000 travel professionals from the region and the world source markets.

Statistics show that US$2,5 billion worth of business was generated at last year’s edition of the fair.