Madrid, Spain — THE Firtur International Travel and Tourism Exposition ended in Madrid, Spain, yesterday with the United Nations World Tourism Organisation secretary-general Mr Talib Rifai declaring that Zambia and Zimbabwe had made enough preparations to co-host the UNWTO general assembly in Victoria Falls.
The Fitur is highly regarded in Europe as one of the annual prime travel and tourism expositions which attracted 9 506 companies from 167 countries with over 119 000 participants and 6 000 journalists.
The primary objective of 30th Firtur International Expo is to make the tourism and hospitality industry professionally related to tourism development, marketing and investment trends by exposing the industry to latest products and services taking place in this sector.
Addressing delegates at the Firtur, Mr Rifai said Zimbabwe and Zambia's ability to co-host the general assembly confirms the UNWTO's belief that it was now time for Africa to direct events in the world tourism family.
"This is the decade for Africa. This is time for Africa. Zimbabwe and Zambia have done extremely well, well enough to co-host the 20th Session of the UNWTO general assembly. This is the only second ever time that we are going to hold the general assembly on African soil, after Senegal in 2007.
"Yes, Zimbabwe and Zambia have done it but not for themselves but for Africa as a whole.
"This is an African event and I am sure it will have an African flavour. I have to mention the hard work by the two Tourism Ministers, Walter Mzembi of Zimbabwe and Sylvia Masebo of Zambia and their teams."
Mr Rifai said on the agenda of the UNWTO general assembly to be held from August 24 to 29 is the need to help Africa benefit from its vast tourist resources through resolving challenges like connectivity and marketing.
"Besides dealing with connectivity, there will also be emphasis on implementing projects that place Africa on the world map as an ultimate tourism hub. Africa has all it takes, if those issues are resolved."