Zimbabwe’s Minister for Tourism and the Hospitality Eng. Walter Mzembi is a rare breed among African tourism ministers, where the life span of staying in office is often a year or less.
Today at the UNWTO General Assembly Minister Mzembi confirmed there was a re- shuffle in the Zimbabwe parliament. He confirmed he will remain to be the minister of tourism for this Southern African country.
Continuity however is what makes for global networking and the constant changes have negatively affected doing business among African countries, as literally at every meeting a new office bearer makes an appearance, only to be replaced soon afterwards in cabinet reshuffles.
It is no wonder therefore that the continuity in office has paid off handsomely for Minister Walter, when he was unanimously re-elected as Chairman of the UNWTO’s Regional Commission for Africa.
Addressing the meeting on his CAF report did Eng.Walter Mzembi, who has been given a fresh mandate to lead the continent for the next two years, challenge 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 when he said:
‘It is safe to visit African countries, including those that were affected by diseases like Ebola. I wish 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’.
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 included unrest and terror attacks in Kenya, Nigeria, Tunisia and notably South Africa, where xenophobia attacks painted a dark and very negative picture of the continent.
Minister Mzembi also bemoaned the intolerable carnage of wildlife mainly through poaching. He said this was 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. He then continued to say:
‘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 synergies 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’.
Commenting on Zimbabwe’s re-election as the CAF Chair the deputy chairperson of the Zimbabwe Tourism Authority board Mr. James Muzangaza said it was 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 it is a stepping stone for both the person of the Minister and the destination Zimbabwe to achieve more at international level’ said Muzangaza.
Zimbabwe and Zambia are the current Co-Presidents of the UNWTO General Assembly since the time Victoria Falls and Livingstone hosted the event two years ago in 2013 when the 20th General Assembly for the first time in its history took place in two cities across an international border. The two countries are set to hand over the Presidency to Colombia at the end this 21st General Assembly.
Source: eTN Global Travel Industry News