Plans to host Africa’s premier business exchange, Sanganai/Hlanganani – World Tourism Expo virtually are in progress. The Zimbabwe Tourism Authority’s Acting Chief Executive, Mr Givemore Chidzidzi, said the fair which has been held since the early 1980s will this year take a new format due to the COVID-19 Pandemic that has led to restrictions of travel and gatherings. Virtual Sanganai/Hlanganani will continue being part of the event even post COVID-19.

He went on to say that, “The main aim of Sanganai/Hlanganani is to provide a platform for the tourism industry players to network with the various global tourism markets hence, given the current situation, digital is the way to go”. The virtual platform will provide exhibitors an opportunity to do real time live chats, build customized booths, schedule one on one meetings and meet international agents 24 hours a day without the barriers of time zones and worries of physical meetings.

This is an exciting and unique platform for the tourism industry, after not being able to attend a number of crucial international travel shows in key source markets due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The tourism industry has been presented with this platform so as to continue to engage the international travel trade and to develop new contact with agents that will be registered on the platform. Mr Chidzidzi added that, the hosting of the event on a virtual platform, will likely attract more buyers as they can log in from the comfort of their homes. The cost of participating at the event is also very low compared to participating at an actual exhibition as it removes costs associated with travel to the event. Mr Chidzidzi urged the industry to embrace the initiative and make sure that they fully utilize it as a tool that will position Zimbabwe as a must visit destination post COVID-19.

Virtual expos have become the new trend in showcasing products and services at a time when physical exhibitions are not possible. To date, organisers of some international shows such as the Arabian Travel Market and IMEX Frankfurt have managed to successfully host virtual exhibitions during the COVID-19 pandemic induced lockdowns and Zimbabwe is following suit to meet with the international trends. The Sanganai/Hlanganani virtual platform will be the first of its kind in Africa and promises to deliver a first-class interaction opportunity for exhibitors and visitors, offering flexibility to schedule, book and hold meetings from the comfort of one’s office. Additionally, the platform will feature interactive educative sessions aimed at equipping the industry and the public with the latest tourism trends. The virtual Sanganai/Hlanganani which was scheduled to be held in September has now been rescheduled to 22 to 23 October 2020.