Bulawayo - The awards ceremony for the 16th Sanganai/Hlanganani World Tourism Expo saw host city Bulawayo score a double win including the overall award for best exhibitor's stand.
The awards formed part of the official opening ceremony which saw hundreds of buyers, exhibitors and other dignitaries gather at the Bulawayo Trade Fair Grounds for an evening of live music, drinks and networking.
The keynote speaker at the event was Africa's most decorated Olympian, acting Tourism Minister Kirsty Coventry, who is also the current Minister of Youth, Sport, Arts and Recreation. She thanked the foreign exhibitors and buyers for their interest in the expo and in the country and commended local exhibitors for their work.
"We are a people that know how to adapt to change. We have overcome some challenges over the last 20 years. We are going through some tough times now and really the last two days (of the expo) not just just proven to me that we stand up and we rise to the challenge but that we will overcome anything that stands in our way," Coventry said.
Bulawayo, affectionately dubbed the "City of Kings and Queens", was voted Best Zimbabwe Stand and also won first place for Best Overall Stand.
Ethiopian Airlines was named Best Airline Stand with Air Zimbabwe snagging second place and Air Tanzania scoring the third place spot.
The other winners were:
Best First Time Exhibitor Stand: Beneath Arica Travel & Tours
Best International Stand: Hospitality & Tourism Association of Botswana
Best Public Institution Stand: Mutare Polytechnic
Best Tour Operator and Travel Agent: Wild Horizons
Best Hotel Stand: African Sun
Best Accommodation Non Hotel Stand: Antelope Park
Best Motor Vehicle Hire Stand: Auto World.
Best Rural District Council Stand: Tsholotsho RDC
Best Women Owned Facility Stand: Nnino Ceramics
Best SME Tourism Related Facility Stand: TV Sales & Home
Saturday, which marks the final day of the expo, will see the event open to the public and a huge turnout is expected.