In the recent past Zimbabwe did not have much luck with hosting weighty global sports events, but the country is currently reaping the benefits of hosting the ICC Cricket World Cup Qualifiers 2018, with local hoteliers, transporters and other businesses enjoying brisk business.
The month-long qualifying tournament is running from March 4 to 25, 2018.
And Zimbabwe’s hosting of the global cricket sporting event is a massive undertaking, which is expected to leave lasting social and economic benefits long after the final whistle.
The 10-team event is expected to generate more than $12 million in direct and indirect economic benefits for Zimbabwe.
The ICC Cricket World Cup Qualifier 2018 — involving Afghanistan, West Indies, Scotland, Ireland, Hong Kong, Papua New Guinea, Nepal, the Netherlands, the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and Zimbabwe — will see two finalists making it to the ICC Cricket World Cup 2019, joining the hosts England and seven other teams that have already automatically qualified through their ranking in the ICC ODI Championship.
Apart from the millions spent on new ground machinery and facility upgrades in the host cities of Harare, Bulawayo and Kwekwe, hotels, playing pitch and restaurants as well as bus and car hire companies are enjoying brisk business during the month-long qualifying tournament.
Companies providing catering, security, laundry and communications services are also benefiting from the cricket event, creating hundreds of new jobs.
“We are extremely proud of the strong and positive impact of the ICC Cricket World Cup Qualifier 2018 on Zimbabwe, with the tournament driving millions of dollars into our economy,” Zimbabwe Cricket and ICC Cricket World Cup Qualifier Local Organising Committee spokesperson Darlington Majonga told the Business Weekly.
Sport tourism has grown in the last decade and is considered the fastest growing sector in the global travel tourism industry.
In addition to the big economic boost, the tournament is receiving massive press, television, radio and digital coverage worldwide.
“It’s a fabulous opportunity for our country to get a lot of international attention and we are pleased that the game of cricket is playing its part in His Excellency President ED Mnangagwa’s drive to breathe new life into Zimbabwe’s economy,” Majonga said.
Majonga believes that bidding for and hosting major international events in the future is easier.
“Apart from the economic impact, there were many other tangible and intangible benefits of hosting the ICC Cricket World Cup Qualifier.
“This event has been a catalyst for new and improved facilities to support the development of the game of cricket at all levels.”
The tournament provided a base for future development of the sport, and contributed to the development and upgrade of sporting facilities.
“A dedicated television audience throughout the world along with the tournament’s high popularity across digital mediums makes it one of the most watched sporting events ever.
“Thanks to the tournament, we have also seen increased cooperation and goodwill between the various stakeholders – Zimbabwe Cricket, the Government and host cities, commercial partners, the media and the community at large,” Majonga added.
In 2010, the economic landscape in South Africa went through significant changes after the country hosted the 2010 FIFA World Cup.
New roads, transport links and telecommunications infrastructure, facilitated commercial life for the country’s citizens. And investment in stadiums created 6,000 new construction jobs. It was reported that the social and economic benefits created by hosting the World Cup would continue to benefit South Africa long after the final whistle.
Zimbabwe Tourism Authority (ZTA) Head of Corporate Affairs, Godfrey Koti agreed that there has been economic impact and benefits in hosting the ICC World Cup Qualifiers and they are expecting more visitors as the tournament progresses.
Koti said the idea is to reposition Zimbabwe as a premier tourism destination in the world.
“We are excited as a nation, to be hosting such a prestigious sports tournament and the tourism sector always stands to benefit directly & indirectly from such events. We have an increase on our receipts and we’re expecting more people to visit the country as the tournament progresses”.
“Our job as the destination marketing authority is simplified because all we need to do is to ride on such big events. When the world comes to our doorstep what we require is to ensure that we use the opportunity to brand our country as a world class destination,” Koti said.
He added, “Sport and tourism should always go hand-in-hand, and we have put in place operational conditions that favor the cricketing family across the country during this tournament”.