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Zimbabwe’s Gastronomy Tourism Receive Extensive Recognition

Zimbabwe’s endeavour to leverage gastronomy tourism and diversify its tourism product base has garnered global attention and earned the country an opportunity to host the first-ever UN Tourism Africa Gastronomy Conference later this year.

Zimbabwe is determined to grow its gastronomy tourism, a sub-type of tourism where people visit countries to sample exotic cuisine, said Tourism and Hospitality Industry Minister Barbara Rwodzi on Monday.

The UN Tourism, a specialized UN agency that promotes responsible, sustainable, and universally accessible tourism, has also given Zimbabwe the opportunity to build a UN Tourism Academy in the resort city of Victoria Falls, to cater for the entire African continent through enhancing tourism and culinary skills for African students, said Rwodzi.

Rwodzi was speaking at this year’s first edition of the provincial traditional cookout competition in Harare Province, where 20 contestants battled for honors for their traditional culinary dishes.

The cookout competitions, a key part of Zimbabwe’s gastronomy tourism development and promotion, will be rolled out to the other nine provinces as part of the country’s preparations to host the first-ever Africa gastronomy forum in Victoria Falls in July.

“All African countries are invited to showcase their traditional cuisine during this period. With this, it is evident that Zimbabwe has gone to another level in terms of promoting gastronomy tourism. Apart from being served in hotels and restaurants, the Zimbabwe traditional foods have diffused into social and economic gatherings as well as regional and international markets,” Rwodzi said.

According to UN Tourism, gastronomy is about much more than food. It reflects the culture, heritage, traditions and sense of community of different peoples. It is a way of promoting understanding among different cultures, and of bringing people and traditions closer together.

Gastronomy tourism is also emerging as an important protector of cultural heritage, and the sector helps to create opportunities, including jobs, most notably in rural destinations.

Rwodzi said some of Zimbabwe’s mouthwatering dishes include Mapfura wine, a natural beverage prepared from a fruit called mapfura by the Shona people of Zimbabwe, have grabbed international attention, she said.

Zimbabwe aims to be the gastronomy powerhouse in Africa, Rwodzi said.

Zimbabwe’s national tourism promotion body said that culinary tourism is rapidly growing as it adds to the attractiveness of Zimbabwe and helps to drive the economic empowerment of local communities.

At the provincial cookout competitions in Harare on Monday, Davis Tinashe Chigodora, one of the winners, said the competition had opened doors for him to showcase his culinary skills to the wider Zimbabwean community.

His traditional dish — made up of butternut soup, mopani delicacy spiced with chilly, small dried fish coated with flour and egg for a starter course, and ginger chicken and pot roasted goat spiced with ginger for the main course — earned him an award in the tightly-contested competition.

“I am very happy that my culinary skills were noticed by the judges. I believe this will open doors for me in the future,” said the 28-year-old.

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