For many people with shallow pockets to travel or with no time to travel, it’s almost impossible for them to see the proverbial Zimbabwean monuments and nature that the country has to offer. But one Zimbabwean, Tawanda Kanhema figured out that you don’t necessarily need to be in Zimbabwe to see these things. Tawanda’s ingenious solution was to put these monuments on StreetView so that anyone in every corner of the world can experience a life-like feel of Victoria Falls, Great Zimbabwe, and the likes.
Tawanda’s story is no pushover- it has the spirit of both patriotism and passion. The man traveled all the way from the USA and financed himself just to share Zimbabwe to the world. Indeed Tawanda is a Zimbabwean who stays in the United States, a journalism graduate from the University of California. He used his personal $5000 bucks to finance this project which saw him spending two weeks in Zimbabwe to shoot 500 miles of video content to be put on Google Maps and Earth.
However, Tawanda didn’t do this entirely on his own, Google chipped in a bit by loaning him a camera through its loan program. Here is what Tawanda said about this project in an interview with CNET:
I grew up in Zimbabwe and went to school at the University of California, Berkeley where I studied journalism and documentary film-making…….In 2016, I got involved with Google’s user generated content initiative, the Street View Camera Loan Program, which allows photographers to borrow a Street View ready camera and take it somewhere interesting. I then pitched two UNESCO World Heritage Sites, Victoria Falls in Zimbabwe and Stone Town in Zanzibar as ideal pilots for expanding Street View to new markets in Southern Africa…..I personally funded all travel and production costs related to the Zimbabwe Street View project. Google and Insta360 provided the Insta360 Pro 2 through the camera loan program.
This is still just a hobby for me, so using off-the-shelf products significantly reduced the costs for something that would cost thousands of dollars to just under $5,000 in flights, hotels, a car rental and gas expenses.
What Tawanda did is worth for Zimbabwe Tourism Authority (ZTA) to copy. Promoting tourism is no longer exclusively limited to publishing ads but something like what Tawanda did is perhaps now more effective to lure tourists. It’s not that pricey to come up with the video content judging by Tawanda’s budget and the huge amount of content he produced.
I believe ZTA has the financial resources to finance a number of these kinds of projects. What I don’t think it has is the will to do it. But lately, ZTA seems like its now ‘tech-curious’ given that it partnered with a certain company to develop a tourism mobile app. Imagine how insightful will the app be if it also offered Streetview footage of Zimbabwe’s monuments?