one of Europe’s leading travel shows, the International Tourism Exchange (BIT) Milan opened its doors today at the Fiera Milano Exhibition Centre in Milan, Italy. BIT invites travel agencies, tour operators, and tourist boards together in one place to exchange experiences and shape the face of travel for the upcoming year. The international exhibition targets the behaviour of tourists and travelers in today’s economic and social climate.
The show was officially opened by the Italian Minister of Tourism Hon Daniela Santanchè at a ribbon-cutting ceremony attended by hundreds of delegates from different subsectors of tourism and the media to mark the first time the show is being held face to face after the two-year COVID-19 occasioned break.
Zimbabwe is represented at the fair by the Deputy Minister of Environment, Climate, Tourism and Hospitality Industry Hon Barbara Rwodzi accompanied by the Zimbabwe Tourism Authority Chief Operations Officer Mr Givemore Chidzidzi, and Principal Tourism Officer in the Ministry Mr Milton Kupenya.
BIT International Tourism Exchange offers both business to business (B2B) and business to consumer (B2C) networking opportunities targeting Italian leading travel trade and consumer outbound travel operators. In addition to confirming itself as the world’s first marketplace for Italian products, BIT 2023 has brought together a wide representation of supply chains under one roof, including global Tourism Ministries, National Tourism Organisations, private sector operators, tourism buyers and consumers. The first day of the show was open to the general travelling public while the next two days are reserved for trade and professional visitors only.
Italy is a market which cannot be ignored by any destination, Zimbabwe included as it features among the top twenty generating countries in the world. During the pre-pandemic period (2015-2019), arrivals to Zimbabwe from the Italian market registered a growth from 9042 in 2015 to 14,541 in 2019 before the devastating effect of COVID-19 which saw the figure declining to an all time low of 406 in 2021. In the post-pandemic period, arrivals from Italy registered a positive growth of 1 579 percent as the country received 6 411 tourist arrivals in 2022, compared to 406 tourist arrivals in 2021. Making Italy the fastest recovering market for Zimbabwe.
Speaking during the Ministerial Roundtable under the theme, “Tourism, People and Territories, 2030and Beyond, the Tourism and Sustainable Development Goals, ” Hon Rwodzi said that in support of SDG 5 (Gender Empowerment through Tourism), in 2021, Zimbabwe introduced the African Traditional Cuisine (cook-out) initiative spearheaded by Her Excellency, the First Lady of the Republic of Zimbabwe, Dr. A. Mnangagwa. This is an opportunity for women to showcase indigenous and nutritious foods, whilst participating in mainstreaming tourism activities. Zimbabwe is now promoting this noble initiative across the region, SADC starting this year, 2023.
She also articulated that the Government of Zimbabwe has also taken a keen interest to develop Community Based Tourism (CBTE) Projects as a vehicle to alleviate poverty in rural and marginalised communities, in line with SDG 1 (no to poverty). The Government has packaged communities through their history, tradition, daily life, arts and craft, flora and fauna, as unique selling points in communities, and CBTEs. CBTEs present Government with opportunities to enhance national tourism competitiveness, alleviation of poverty, environmental conservation and the preservation of local culture and heritage.
The BIT Exchange is also being attended by the Gambian Minister of Tourism Hon Hamat Bah, Zimbabwe’s top Diplomat to Italy, Her Excellency Ambassador Mietani Chauke, Honorary Consulate of the Republic of Namibia Dr. Petter Johannesen, Ministers of Tourism from Sierra Lionne, Sri Lanka, Tunisia and many more.