The Herald (Harare)

7 December 2012

East Africa: Market Tourism At Unwto, Comesa Urged

THE Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa Secretariat has been urged to table an agenda on the marketing and promotion of tourism in the Comesa region during the upcoming United

Nations World Tourism Organisation 2013 Annual General Assembly to be jointly hosted by Zimbabwe and Zambia.

This motion was passed by the private sector at the recent eighth Comesa Business Forum held in Uganda.

Zimbabwe has already attracted the world's attention after winning the bid to host the UNWTO General Assembly and this would present a chance to market Zimbabwe as a safe and reliable tourist destination in the region.

A team of UNWTO inspectors visited the country in October to check on the preparedness for the meeting and confirmed that Zimbabwe's preparations were on track.

Secretary-General of the Comesa Business Council Mr Trust Chikohora said that member states had been urged to put more emphasis on promoting indigenous growth in sectors such as agriculture tourism, infrastructure, manufacturing and services.

"This should be complemented by measures to strengthen financial and capital markets and improve the investment climate," he said.

He added that member states were also urged to engage in the mobilisation of more resources for national and regional financial institutions such as PTA Bank to increase the lending capacity for small and medium enterprise development and engage in value addition.

"While the existing micro SME programmes in the region have a common approach of increasing the competitiveness of entrepreneurs within the domestic markets, member states are encouraged to explore regional cluster approaches that can promote increased trade within Comesa consumer market," said Mr Chikohora.

He said member states had been requested to facilitate access to financial mechanisms for MSMEs especially for investment in manufacturing processes. He noted that this would support value addition of local products in the region.

"Member states and private sector are urged to embark on a partnerships drive in the provision of infrastructure for small businesses and cross-border traders in the form of storage facilities, market or trading places and information hubs in order to facilitate and create a conducive environment for doing business by the sector," Mr Chikohora said.

Member states were also asked to bear in mind the pivotal role played tobacco farmers in national economies and consider the balance between public health, fiscal policy, trade and agriculture realities and the impact of the FCTC guidelines on revenue, livelihoods and foreign exchange earnings of tobacco growing countries.

Mr Chikohora said that member sates were advised to put in place mechanisms that support the role of women and youths in SMEs and enterprise development.

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