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» » Chipinge tourism: Advice for ZTA

Rachel Danda and Marvelous Sengwe of Chiredzi ZTA office

Stephen Ephraem  

Advancement in the digital era has seen the birth of social media platforms that have, however, been characterised by both curses and blessings.
Verbal face-to-face interaction has been reduced as even family members in the same room sit glued to their communication gadgets when they would otherwise be talking to one another.
On the bright side, people can now interact with relatives and friends who are now reachable in real time regardless of the length of the distance between them. Even business entities have also seen the importance of using social media platforms for marketing purposes.
That's the same case with the Zimbabwe Tourism Authority (ZTA), a government arm responsible for marketing tourism in the country.
ZTA's wide presence on Facebook and Twitter has seen the birth of hashtags like #VisitZimbabwe and #WowZimbabwe.
Many ZTA regional offices have active Facebook pages where the responsible branch does marketing work for localised events as well as for tourism products and packages. The move is timely and well-calculated.
Under the management of Marvelous Sengwe, the ZTA Lowveld branch has its own Facebook page aptly named 'South East Lowveld Region - Home of The Famous Sandstone Cliffs.' 
Through this page, Chiredzi tourism activities are now on the radar. The page has attracted some notable names including stand-up comedians Doc Vikela and The Comic Pastor, with their recent visit to Gonarezhou National Park being well-publicised.
A friendly message for ZTA
In contrast, Chiredzi district's sibling, Chipinge is not on the radar. Chipinge might not have a national park and as many conservancies as Chiredzi, but for whatever it has on offer to be well-known, it all depends on what ZTA does.
Upper Chipinge's climatic conditions have enabled the area to have a natural forest in the name of Chirinda Forest in Chipinge East. The jungle is home to The Big Tree of Chirinda Forest.
The Big Tree is the largest Red Mahogany in Southern Africa and the second largest tree in Africa. It is a tourism package in its own right. Unfortunately, The Big Tree remains in the shadows of others tourism packages.
Chipinge's northern landscapes of Chibasane Waterfalls in Ngaone communal lands are a pride to the region. With one of the four waterfalls reaching a height of 150m, there is no doubt that those ornaments along Changazi River are a unique package.
Rupise Hot Spring on the outskirts of Chipinge Safari Area at Chipangayi is a unique natural feature with huge potential to put Chipinge on the map. The hot spring shall, however, remain in the shadows of Nyanyadzi Hot Springs for as long as ZTA overlooks it in social media campaigns. 
In cultural tourism, Chipinge has two galas, MaChangana Festival held in Mahenye and Ndau Festival of the Arts held in Chikore. Both galas take place in September of every year and they usually take place on the same day.
It seems as MaChangana and Ndau Festival of the Arts are competing for supremacy in the eastern district. Whether it is purely coincidental that the two galas hold their commemorations on the same day or not is not the issue. The real issue here is the fact that such kind of competition is not at all healthy for cultural tourism.
There is no reason why tourists should be made to choose between the two events when they can be made to attend both.
ZTA, please engage the organisers and help them understand the importance of complementing each other rather than to be seen as antagonising one another. Cultural tourists need to attend both festivals and this is only possible if the galas are held on different dates.
Chipinge has the potential to become a tourism hub. What lacks, unfortunately, is a sustained and regular marketing campaign for all the available tourism packages.
ZTA Lowveld, Chipinge pins all its hopes on you.local

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