The Herald (Harare)

Zimbabwe: 'UNWTO Preps on Track'

Preparations for the forthcoming United Nations World Tourism Organisation General Assembly to be co-hosted by Zimbabwe and Zambia are on track, UNWTO secretary-general Dr Taleb Rifai has said.

The UNWTO general assembly will be held in Victoria Falls in August next year. In his remarks at the just ended 94th UNWTO Executive Council Session at the Mexican resort town of Cempeche, Dr Rifai called for increased marketing of the event to ensure maximum participation.

Tourism and Hospitality Industry Minister Walter Mzembi who was leading the Zimbabwean delegation at the meeting expressed his gratitude over the latest developments.

He, however, could not give more details before meeting President Mugabe.

"I will be meeting with His Excellency to share special resolutions on the policy thrust of the General Assembly and aspects of UNWTO business from the recently concluded meetings."

Minister Mzembi said there was, however, expectation from the Africa Commission that this General Assembly should table the African agenda on travel and tourism, the challenges besetting it, and proffer solutions that would enhance the continent's participation in global tourism.

Tourist arrivals are expected to peak at one billion and generate US$1,5 trillion income by year-end.

"Africa's market share is currently a mere four percent of this lucrative sector, which employs 250 million people worldwide, and enjoys nine percent of global domestic product."

A team of UNWTO inspectors recently visited Zimbabwe and Zambia to check on the preparations.

"The next round of inspections will take place in January 2013, followed by a Tri-Lateral Meeting at Fitur, in Spain at the end of January."

Minister Mzembi said the UNWTO would receive a very comprehensive report on the preparations at its 95th Executive Council Session in Serbia in May next year.

This would be the last executive meeting held outside the general assembly venue of the Victoria Falls in August next year.

Vice President Joice Mujuru, who leads an inter-ministerial committee on Zimbabwe's hosting of the event, recently visited Victoria Falls to check on progress on the preparations for the event.

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