Prosper Ndlovu, Business Editor
THE National Geographic Traveller has named Zimbabwe as one of the 19 must-see tourism destinations in the world in 2019.
Being one of the world’s leading geographic magazines, National Geographic has ranked the country number nine, the highest ranking for any African country.
The remarkable endorsement follows a recent report by Lonely Planet, another leading travel organisation, which listed Zimbabwe as the third destination the world must see next year.
Setouchi in Japan topped the list with the next African country being Eritrea at number 12, followed by KwaZulu Natal in South Africa at 13 and Uganda at 16.
Zimbabwe has emerged as a formidable tourism player globally with abundant business opportunities and wider room for improved viability.
With tourism seen as a critical pillar in the country’s economy and Africa at large, National Geographic says there is an abundance of tourist attractions in Zimbabwe and in its “The Cool List 2019”, it gives space to destinations that entail futuristic cityscapes, modern architecture, pristine rain-forests and rehabilitated wildlife.
In its report, the National Geographic alludes to the issue of change of Government in Zimbabwe and notes how the departure of former President Robert Mugabe has yielded positive gains for the tourism sector under President Emmerson Mnangagwa.
There is also mention of how despite the political and economic challenges which the country is going through, tourists are very safe.
Zimbabwe has also been ranked above the United Kingdom in terms of the world tourism destination safety, the UK Telegraph Travel reported this year.
“As a destination we pride ourselves on our record of safety and peace, which is one of our selling points, and we are happy to be recognised as such.
“The biggest publications have confirmed this and are selling our story the way we want. This will bolster our arrivals,” Zimbabwe Tourism Authority corporate affairs manager, Mr Godfrey Koti, commented.
“We have just come from Turkey as well where we were marketing destination Zimbabwe, a country of remarkable safety and wonders. Being ranked above the UK in terms of safety is a good and great achievement for us.”
The main attractions for Zimbabwe include Victoria Falls and the whole surrounding area, which encompasses the Zambezi National Park as well as the Hwange National Park, Mana Pools National Park, Gonarezhou National Park, to mention a few.
Although the country could not make it into the top 20 countries with highest safety and security ratings, according to the World Economic Forum (WEF), the 2017 biennial Travel and Tourism Competitiveness Report published by the foundation, shows the country commands formidable respect in safety terms, way above its developed counterparts.
The level of peace and security is a key factor for the success of the tourism industry.
Travellers are highly nervous and tend to shun places of conflict and those with poor security and safety perception.