Zimbabwe’s minister of Tourism and Hospitality Industry Engr Walter Mzembi has been unanimously re-elected by African countries as the Chairman of the United Nations World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO) Regional Commission for Africa (CAF). Engr Mzembi’s re-election was endorsed in the 57th meeting of the CAF which was presided over by the UNWTO Secretary General Dr Taleb Rifai.
The 57th Commission for Africa meeting was part of the agenda of the on-going 21st session of the UNWTO General Assembly being held in Medellin, Colombia.
Addressing the meeting on his CAF report, Engr Walter Mzembi, who has been given a fresh mandate to lead the continent for the next two years, challenged African countries to continue working together and collaborate effectively for the elimination of all ills that continue to negatively affect the brand equity of the continent. To this end, the CAF Chairman made a clarion call to source markets to remove travel advisories that discourage travel to Africa saying this reduces potential revenue to the concerned countries.
” It is safe to visit African countries, including those that were affected by dieseases like ebola. I wish to to call upon those source markets that issued negative travel advisories to remove them to allow smooth growth of tourism and economic recovery of the concerned countries, ” he said.
The latest UNWTO World Tourism Barometer for the first half of the 2015 shows that Africa’s international tourist numbers in this half declined by an estimated 6% as a consequence of the decrease in arrivals to North Africa (-7%) as well as sub-Saharan Africa (-5%) amid security concerns and the ebola contagion effect. Some of the tragic incidents on the continent includes unrest and terror attacks in Kenya, Nigeria, Tunisia and South Africa where there were xenophobia attacks.
Minister Mzembi also bemoaned the intolerable carnage of wildlife mainly through poaching. He said this, whas being amplified by trade in wildlife products across Africa, that has become a menace to the growth of tourism and sustainable management of natural resources in Africa
” We need to take measures that enhance sustainable management of our natural resources for posterity. The most pressing issues we are grappling with today are high levels of wildlife poaching, environmental degradation and illegal trade in wildlife products. I fully support efforts to mobilise the entire global tourism industry and lead the international anti poaching coalition to deal with the problem. We need to harness the work of conservation organisations and create sysnegies that enhance sustainable management, conservation, preservation and ultimately leverage on our natural assets to improve economic value accruing from our biodiversity to improve the lives of our communities in Africa,” said Minister Mzembi.
Commenting on Zimbabwe’s re-election the deputy chairperson of the Zimbabwe Tourism Authority board Mr James Muzangaza said its a clear brand endorsement for a country that was recently awareded with an African rising destination award. ” We are pleased with this development as it makes the job of the zta more easier. Zimbabwe brand in Africa is becoming more popular and its a stepping stone for both the person of the Minister and the destinationZimbabwe to achieve more at international level,” said Muzangaza.
Zimbabwe and Zambia are the current co- President of the UNWTO General Assembly since the time Victoria Falls and Livingstone hosted the event in 2013. The two countries are set to hand over the Presidency to Colombia at the end this General Assembly.
This article was written by SUGAR CHAGONDA