Zimbabwe has activated all its systems ahead of the 20th session of the United Nations World Tourism Organisation General Assembly slated for August in a spirited effort to ensure that it puts up a memorable African event.
All systems, from service delivery to the media, have now been activated to ensure that the event is properly marketed and packaged to meet international standards and to ensure that the event exudes a completely African aura.
What is laudable is that, with immediate effect, the secretariat to run the event is now moving to Victoria Falls to deal with all outstanding issues in situ.
Although a lot has been done in terms of sprucing up the face of Victoria Falls and in terms of service provision, the secretariat will be on the ground to tie up the loose ends.
On Tuesday night, Tourism and Hospitality Industry Minister Walter Mzembi set the ball rolling by unveiling the roadmap that will lead to the successful, co-hosting of the general assembly with Zambia.
The grand event is slated for August 24-29 at the Victoria Falls and Livingstone and more than 1 200 delegates, among them ministers of tourism, tourism authority chief executives, tourist wholesalers, hoteliers and businesspeople from the 170 member states of the UN tourism family are expected to attend.
More than 100 media houses are expected to attend and Zimbabwe will accredit them to ensure that they operate freely.
|Fast facts about UNWTO 2013:|
|Date||24th to 29th August 2013|
|People attending||More than 1 200 delegates (170 members states), more than 100 media houses|
|Opening Ceremony||Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe|
|Closing Ceremony||Livingstone, Zambia|
A single visa will be used for foreign delegates that will enable them to travel between Zimbabwe and Zambia without hitches.
Minister Mzembi chose a cocktail for journalists held at the Harare International Conference Centre to kick-start a two-month roadmap to the mega event, which Zimbabwe might never host again within the next 360 years, given that the bi-annual event rotates on equal basis between member states.
The minister, no doubt, tried by all means to equip journalists with enough knowledge and information to avoid misinformation and non-factual reporting that has become the norm in Zimbabwe ahead of each major event. Of great importance is the fact that the launch of the roadmap comes just a week before the final visit of the UNWTO inspectors on the two countries’ level of preparedness next week.
Minister Mzembi said the 20th session of the general assembly would discuss accessibility of tourist destination especially in Africa, visa regimes that have made it impossible for many people to travel across international boundaries, information technology and sustainable tourism in the main agenda.
The only other African country to host the mega event was Senegal in 2007. As per norm, the hosting Minister of Tourism automatically assumes the presidency of the UNWTO and since Zimbabwe and Zambia, are co-hosting. The two ministers -Walter Mzembi and Sylvia Masebo of Zambia – will assume the co-presidency of the UNWTO, until the 21st session.
The climax of Zimbabwe’s influence in the UNWTO was winning the bid to co-host with Zambia, the general assembly, ahead of rich nations like Jordan and Russia that had also submitted their bids.
Therefore, the UNWTO General Assembly gives Zimbabwe the best opportunity to showcase its tourism offerings and also to prove that it is not a rogue state, as some Western countries would have loved to paint.
The time to prove to the world is now and the time to host the event is now. The ball is in our court.
By: Isdore Guvamombe
Date: 21 June 2013