By Norma Tsopo
MUTARE – The Eastern Highlands – stretching from Nyanga in the north through Vumba, Cashel and Chimanimani down to Chipinge in the south has been a destination of choice for thousands of tourists over the years.
Enjoying arguably the fairest weather in the country – with high rainfall, low level cloud and heavy mists as moisture moves inland from the Indian Ocean it has diverse flora to add to its intrigue of naturally occurring mountainous landscape.
Its catalogue of world class tourist attractions include Zimbabwe’s highest mountain – Mt Inyangani, its tallest waterfall – Mtarazi Falls through the misty Vumba Mountain to the rocky Chimanimani mountain range down to the tropical forests of Chirinda in Chipinge with game reserves to their lee-ward side down to Gonarezhou national park in the southeastern corner of the country.
In spite of all this treasure trove of sites, visitors to the region are now a mere trickle.
This has challenged tourism players in the region to come together under the banner of Eastern Highlands Experience to market this unappreciated region.
As part of its ongoing efforts to promote the region, it is running Eastern Highlands exhibitions with the second edition of these annual expos slated for The Mustard in Harare on November 9.
Mt Claire Hotel Managing Director Brian Nyakutombwa said the expo was meant to allow the region to table what it has to the world.
“It’s an important platform which brings together the hospitality and tourism service providers in the eastern highlands region of Zimbabwe. The one major benefit is that it’s an opportunity for those who don’t know about the eastern Highlands to come to see for themselves and interact with the payers from the eastern highlands and learn what eastern highlands offers,” Nyakutombwa said.
He said the region has a lot to be discovered and can even rival or beat any other region in the country.
“There is quite a lot to be discovered there. I’m convinced that the eastern highlands is like a rising giant in the tourism and hospitality landscape of Zimbabwe. It hasn’t had that much or that many visits. Without taking anything away from the other regions. There has been a lot of focus on Victoria Falls for very obvious and genuine reasons – it’s a world attraction but equally the eastern highlands has natural beauties that are equally of international standards,” Nyakutombwa said.
The Eastern Highlands Experience said they are primarily targeting the capital city to give them what is on the region’s tourism menu during the festive season.
“It’s time for people in Harare to find out what the travel and tourism operators of the Eastern Highlands have on offer for the coming Christmas and new year season and for 2018,” read its Facebook post
The expo is also targeting Association of Zimbabwean Travel Agents, Zimbabwe Tour Operators Association, and all other associations under the Zimbabwe Council for Tourism umbrella, as well as to all diplomatic missions and a selection of ZSE-listed corporates, the Advertising and Publicity Club and the trade body for event organisers.