The youth travel market in Zimbabwe has grown over the years because of a rise in disposable incomes within youth and a general appreciation of travel in terms of fulfilling their individual growth. Harare is one of the most cosmopolitan and youth friendly cities in Africa with a myriad of places to tingle any taste within the young travel market in the globe – wildlife sanctuaries, cinemas, nightclubs and restaurants, as published by wysetc (Amsterdam) at 13.12.2007. One of the city’s biggest challenges, however, is the lack of a clear policy by the responsible authorities tasked with promoting the country, that promotes global or domestic youth to visit not only Harare but Zimbabwe at large.
Exchange programmes and Gap Year visits have been the best avenue for travel among the majority of youths from around the world. These have led to repeat visits at a later stage in life. Zimbabwe needs to come up with youth-oriented packages to make the country’s resorts accessible to local youths who represent the best place to start in building a formidable travelling culture within the youths.
Rejoice Mabota, a travel manager with Five Bulls Travel Agency, admitted there was a potentially large youth travel market that sadly has not been exploited, but added that the image the country abroad had also impacted negatively on marketing Zimbabwe. "The picture we have abroad is not so rosy, leading parents to advise their children not to come to Zimbabwe, but the market definitely exists. It is different when it comes to Zimbabwean youths because most of them don’t have the money to travel, they are mostly funded by their parents but it’s difficult for everyone at the moment," said Rejoice.
Her company offers Youth Fares in conjunction with South African Airways and Air Zimbabwe. These are discounted fares for people aged between 12 and 25 to promote youth travel but they do not have other packages for the youth yet they can facilitate discounts for youths that want to travel in groups. Five Bulls also offers holiday packages, senior citizens‘ fares as well as the hottest trend in the industry – Golf Safaris. Harare is on par with global trends in terms of urban youth culture and information technology literacy, which makes it a destination, where foreign youth can feel comfortable.
In the United States, they have HI Hostelling International a non-profit-making organisation that emphasises the values of simple and inexpensive travel and offers reasonable overnight accommodation in the United States, Canada, Mexico, and parts of Asia, Africa, Europe and South America. When travellers stay at HI hostels, the organisation offers them the chance to meet and interact with other travellers and with people from the community where the hostel is located.
HI programmes help broaden a traveller’s understanding of an American or foreign community by providing a rich inter-cultural experience. Programmes are offered to groups and individuals and are variously designed for children, teenagers, adults and senior citizens. At many hostels special activities and programmes are designed for people with disabilities and for disadvantaged youths.
The Zimbabwe Tourism Authority should take a leaf from such organisations and facilitate the creation of such institutions by the youths so their marketing campaigns are not single dimensional but cut across the broad spectrum of the travel industry.
Mehrere Mitglieder und Partner des BundesForum Kinder- und Jugendreisen e.V. (Berlin) sind Mitglieder der wysetc. Das DJH Deutsche Jugendherbergswerk e.V. (Detmold) ist sowohl Mitglied des BundesForum als auch von HI Hostelling International.