16 January 2013

Zimbabwe: UNWTO Team Happy With Progress

The success of the 20th session of the UNWTO general assembly to be co-hosted by Zimbabwe and Zambia in August will reflect positively on Africa, a senior UNWTO official has said. UNWTO regional director for Africa Mr Ousmane Ndiaye told journalists in Harare yesterday that Africa should strive to make the event a success because of the positive image it would bring to the continent.

He said while Zimbabwe and Zambia were joint hosts of the event - Africa should take an active part to ensure success.

"We want to show seriousness. We have to do our outmost to make this a successful meeting," he said.

Africa enjoys only four percent of the global tourism market and hopes to increase the percentage to double digits by 2020.

Mr Ndiaye said Africa could only enjoy increased tourism by opening up the skies and easing the visa restrictions.

Mr Ndiaye is part of a two-men UNWTO inspectorate team reviewing the preparedness of both Zimbabwe and Zambia in co-hosting the 20th session of the UNWTO general assembly slated for the Victoria Falls in August.

The technical visit is the third towards the countdown to the general assembly. Earlier in the morning the team met Acting President Joice Mujuru who updated them on the reparations and reiterated Zimbabwe's commitment to the hosting of the premier world event.

UNWTO chief of conferences Mr Munir Rayes said he was impressed with preparations.

"Our meeting with the Vice President (Acting President) went very well.

"She gave us information about preparations.

"We are happy with progress," he said.

Addressing a press conference later in the day, Mr Rayes said the visit was to assess the preparedness of the co-hosts.

"We find the same commitment we saw last year. We start our technical visit tomorrow (today)," he said.

The actual assessment of the facilities that include hotels, lodges, airports and the venues begins today in Victoria Falls.

The team also met the chairperson of the inter-ministerial committee of the UNWTO general assembly - deputy chief secretary to the President and Cabinet Rtd Col Christian Katsande.

Tourism and Hospitality Industry Minister Walter Mzembi warned the business community against using the event to 'bleed delegates of their meagre stipends' but to use the event to market Zimbabwe.

He said 'post conference' results should be 'more people coming to visit'.

Said Minister Mzembi: "We are ready to host the 20th session.

"We are on track with preparations".

Today the team leaves for Victoria Falls en-route to Zambia where it would assess facilities and meet Zambian officials.

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