Zonfa director, Victor Marufu said that the opening of the village built on four hectares of architectural beauty and creative design in Harare will bring an assortment of different ways of living, stimulating a healthy community and promoting African cultures.
“The opening of Ekhayeni — The African Village brings the taste of the real Africa, all encapsulated within a shopping environment that has been designed to entertain and inspire, while promoting cultural and heritage tourism,” Marufu said.
African nations have lacked a forum to showcase and sell produce as well as showing off their expertise, so we have stepped up and we are offering a unique market place.
He said the village will blend the desires and needs of any shoppers as it will feature food outlets, farmers’ markets, children’s play centre, events centre, music studio, art studio, hair studio and nail bar, communication centre, herbal shop, tour operators and travel agencies, African couture outlets, art and craft shops and plants and herbs nursery.
The events centre will be the heartbeat of our village as it will host many functions including, cultural festivals, fashion shows, music festivals and competitions, he said.
Marufu said the music studio will offer educational classes for pre-schoolers up to teens, adding that there will be an early childhood music education programme to be taught by qualified teachers.
Art classes at our studio are designed to intentionally develop the inner artist, having been structured around weekly themes encouraging experimentation and creativity with the aim of unleashing the artist within, he said.
Our art and craft shop will carry extraordinary, exotic and unique collections of African arts and craft products, offered at the most competitive prices.
He said the African couture outlets will not just be about clothing, but visual statements that are part of art and fashion.
Meanwhile, ZCT president Tichaona Hwingwiri says that the tourism sector in the country is losing potential revenue due to lack of a well-serviced route network around Zimbabwe by scheduled air service providers.
The lack of a well-serviced route network around Zimbabwe by scheduled air service providers is a worry, especially as foreign visitors prefer to fly in and out of destinations and not travel long distances by road, he said.
Airlines have also expressed concern that repatriation of funds to airlines servicing our destination through the IATA ,International Air Transport Association, Fund is slow and debilitating, and will have an effect of making Zimbabwe look unreliable to potential and existing carriers servicing this country.
IATA suspended Air Zimbabwe from its account settlement system in 2012 due to non-payment of fees, thereby dealing a major blow to the struggling airline. The airline is still struggling to pay $3,5 million it owes IATA.
Hwingwiri also outlined a range of challenges affecting tourism growth, and these include both macro and micro issues.
He said self-drive tourism to Zimbabwe and domestic tourism has been significantly affected by the huge number and aggressiveness of police roadblocks.
The Zimbabwe Republic Police has increased roadblocks on the country’s highways to maintain peace, but the high number of checkpoints has been criticised as being excessive and discouraging to tourists.
Tourism players have tried to engage the police to get them to reduce roadblocks to match international standards to no avail.
Hwingwiri also noted that reduced spending power among Zimbabwean consumers has caused a drop-off in travel to local destinations for leisure purposes, while decreased budgets within corporates and other organisations has reduced the number of business and conference opportunities for hospitality operators in particular.
The state of roads to be used by tourists is a major concern, especially in the Eastern Highlands, which is entirely dependent on road transportation of visitors,he said.
Hwingwiri said inadequate levels of access for potential tourists coming to Zimbabwe was also a major problem, although relief has been somewhat forthcoming because of the expansion of the Victoria Falls International Airport and the drive to encourage more airlines with larger aircraft to travel there.