30 August 2011
SADC has endorsed Zimbabwe’s bid to co-host with Zambia, the United Nations World Tourism Organisation general assembly in 2013, Tourism and Hospitality Industry Minister Walter Mzembi said yesterday.
If successful, the bid will bring together 186 countries to the Victoria Falls and will arguably be among the biggest world events to be hosted by Zimbabwe in recent years.
Ridding on the crest of the Sadc endorsement, Zimbabwe this weekend dispatched secretary for Tourism, Dr Sylvester Maunganidze and Zimbabwe Tourism Authority chief executive, Mr Karikoga Kaseke, to physically deposit Zimbabwe’s bid in Spain as required by the UNWTO rules.
In an interview yesterday, Minister Mzembi said after endorsement by President Mugabe and his Zambian counterpart Rupiah Banda, the two countries successfully got the signatures from all Sadc countries.
“I am glad to say that we successfully got the Sadc endorsement and that we have moved quickly thereafter.
“On Saturday, I dispatched my permanent secretary Dr Maunganidze and ZTA chief executive Kaseke to Spain to physically deposit the bid as per requirement by the rules.
“I am sure, they arrived at the weekend and they must deposit the bid today or tomorrow as required.
“We have also embarked on a parallel process to campaign for the bid through diplomatic missions and other Government structures,” said Minister Mzembi.
He added: “We are not a talk shop. First our President endorsed our bid by appending his signature and then I met President Banda some six weeks ago, who also agreed.
“Now we have the whole Sadc rallying behind us.”
Minister Mzembi said the general assembly slated for October 2013 would bring the much needed brand endorsement for Zimbabwe as a tourist destination.
He said because of the size of the meeting, the Zimbabwean side of the Victoria Falls does not have enough facilities to singularly host it, hence the co-hosting with Zambia.
“Because of the Sadc endorsement, we have already started having inquiries from the region on to how to cash in on the general assembly.
“For instance, the Kaza Front or Kavango-Zambezi Transfrontier Park that brings together Zimbabwe, Zambia, Botswana, Namibia and Angola, has already started working on the packages hoping that we win the bid.
“This is a major brand endorsement for Zimbabwe because for the record, it is known that Zimbabwe is among the safest tourist destinations in Africa, if not the safest,” said the Minister.
It is envisaged that if Zimbabwe manages to host the assembly, Victoria Falls will generate more money during that period than it does in a year.