Tarisai Tahungai, Business Reporter | 2012-01-03
Zimbabwe Tourism Authority (ZTA) chief executive officer Karikoga Kaseke says the joint hosting of the United Nations World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO) conference in Victoria Falls will be a game changer as it presents an opportunity for the country to rebuild its battered image.
The country has been suffering from negative publicity that has impacted negatively on its attractiveness as an investment destination.
The UNWTO is a world tourism organisation that is a specialised agency of the United Nations and the leading international organisation in the field of tourism.
“This is a very important conference for us for being endorsed by the UNWTO,” said Kaseke.
“This endorses the country as a tourism destination.”
He said courtesy of the UNWTO Zimbabwe would soon be portrayed as a safe destination adding the conference was an opportunity for image transformation as this was a global event.
Kaseke urged all stakeholders to ensure the event was a success as it was not a Ministry of Tourism or government function, but a national event that require the participation of everybody.
He said government was already making strides to make sure this event was a success by putting in place structures to monitor preparations for the event.
“The Vice-President, Joice Mujuru, will be chairing the government committee spearheading the preparations for the UNWTO 2013 conference,” said Kaseke.
“The tourism sector is very hopeful of the new convention centre, which will be put up in Victoria Falls. Hopefully it will be up and running just in time for the UNWTO conference.”
He said the new convention centre would not only be for the UNWTO conference, but for use by the people of Victoria Falls.
The UNWTO plays a central role in promoting the development of responsible, sustainable and universally accessible tourism with a focus on the interests of developing countries.
Its membership includes 161 nations and more than 300 affiliate members representing the private sector, educational institutions, tourism associations and local tourism authorities.
Upon return from winning the bid in Korea last year, Tourism and Hospitality Industry minister Walter Mzembi said Zimbabwe’s bid to co-host the next global event was approved, but more should be done.
He has since set a target of five million tourist arrivals and a 15% gross domestic product contribution from the tourism sector by 2015, a move which he said would be achievable especially with the visitors drawn from over 200 countries who will grace the event.
General assemblies are held biennially. With over 200 members of the UN General Assembly, the probability of any one country hosting the assembly on its soil is one in 400 years.