The Herald (Harare)

10 December 2012

Zimbabwe: UNWTO to Consolidate Brand Zim

TOURISM and Hospitality Minister Engineer Walter Mzembi says Zimbabwe will take advantage of next year's United Nations World Tourism Organisation General Assembly to consolidate its brand.

Zimbabwe and Zambia will co-host the UNWTO event, to be held in Africa for the first time, but all the major ceremonies will take place in Zimbabwe's Victoria Falls town.

Minister Mzembi was officially opening the Marketers' Association of Zimbabwe annual Superbrand of the Year awards last Thursday.

He challenged the guests to use their various capacities, knowledge, skills and brands to build a strong and sustainable national brand.

He said the Government, for its part, had already enlisted a reputable expert to capture exactly what the country ought to achieve by hosting the UNWTO General Assembly.

"We have premised the vision for the United Nations World Tourism Organisation General Assembly next year on the uniqueness of our Africanness and we are talking about 2013, a uniquely UNWTO General Assembly," he said.

He commended Brand South Africa marketing and communications director Ms Nomsa Mazibuko, whom MAZ invited to grace the Superbrand awards event, for seizing every small opportunity to market the African Cup of Nations soccer showcase to be hosted by South Africa next year.

Minister Mzembi said it was critical to realise that the world was now driven by mega events and predicted that Zimbabwe's economic breakthrough would occur through people visiting the country.

He cited the impact of the 2012 Olympic Games on the British economy as testimony of how mega events can benefit a country's economy. Tourism demonstrated its resilience to economic instabilities as shown by the large number of people visiting Zimbabwe during its period of hyperinflation.

"I suggest that we showcase more than the routine," he said. "Let us showcase our brands. The UNWTO General Assembly next year is not (just) about tourism. It is (also) about brand Zimbabwe.

"There are only two key events that will happen (in Zimbabwe) next year and they are all dubbed 'general'."

Minister Mzembi cited the two major events next year as the general election and the UNWTO General Assembly adding that the latter was a unique country rebranding opportunity for the winners of the upcoming plebiscite.

He said the post-election Government would use the event to unveil, market and position itself. "That is why it is important that we put our best foot forward to make sure that it (UNWTO General Assembly) is successful," he said.

But Minister Mzembi said it was critical for locals to use their various leading brands to market the country's six pillars that are critical for bringing Zimbabwe to a state of growth.

The six key pillars comprise the human resources, peaceful and credible elections, exports, investment, immigration rules and tourism to market the country's unique brand.

He said there was need to effectively use the human resource pillar to promote local brands and Zimbabwe in general.

But some were actually being used to bring in products that promoted consumption of imports, hence the trade deficit.

The general election next year was critical to choose a new Government from a single party that would take the country forward without the hassles of cross-party policy grid-locking.

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