MATABELELAND NORTH Provincial Affairs minister Cain Mathema has called on tour operators in the province to work together to ensure the smooth running of the industry and rid the industry of negative publicity the sector has suffered from foreign media.
Speaking at a meeting organised by his office at the Hwange Safari Lodge on Monday, Mathema called on the operators to devise marketing strategies that would place the province on the international map.
“We need to work together and defend ourselves from negative reporting, which will always be there unfortunately,” Mathema said.
“If you drive from Bulawayo to here, you will see small shops with Coca-Cola adverts outside.
“That is a big conglomerate in the world, but they always advertise themselves. You need to find strategies to advertise yourselves.”
Mathema said there was need for local authorities in the province to also take part in the sector so they could generate income.
“How involved are local authorities in making money in the process? Let us be free with each other; there is so much that can make us billionaires as long as we respect the law,” Mathema said.
He said his office was open for discussions with operators on ways to improve the industry and how the government could assist.
It was agreed that there was need for serious networking among the operators as well as utilising social media platforms to advertise their activities.
Speaking to Southern Eye after the meeting, Mathema said he had called the gathering to discuss issues affecting tourism in the province.
“The province has received negative publicity with reports claiming that we are busy butchering elephants and other animals, so we wanted to counter that,” he said.
Mathema said they also discussed the on-going human-animal conflict and conflicts within the tour operators themselves.