'Grab UNWTO opportunity'

HARARE - Zimbabwe must grab the opportunities being offered by the forthcoming United Nations World Tourism (UNWTO) general assembly in August this year to create a brighter future, a South Korean diplomat has said.

The tourism summit will be co-hosted by Zimbabwe and Zambia — two countries which share one of the seven natural wonders of the world, Victoria Falls.

More than 5 000 delegates from around the world are expected to attend the conference.

According to the latest UNWTO barometer, Zimbabwe is the fifth favourite tourism destination in Africa with 2,2 million international arrivals.

Speaking to the Daily News, South Korean ambassador to Harare Lew Kwang-Chul said Zimbabwe already has the infrastructure to boost its tourism industry.

“It is up to Zimbabwe to make most of it because it will be good for the future of the industry,” he said.

“There is still room for huge improvement in terms of tourism,” Kwang-Chul said.

The Victoria Falls Airport is also set to get a facelift ahead of the summit as plans are underway to refurbish the airstrip.

Zimbabwe has already started counting down to the hosting of what will be one of the most esteemed summits in the country, with Tourism minister Walter Mzembi claiming the country is ready to host the world event.

The world has been closely monitoring the country’s political environment to assess the level of political maturity after a decade of political and economic turmoil.

With elections on the horizon, a peaceful general poll will set the pace for a successful event.
 
According to the Zimbabwe Tourism Authority (ZTA), tourist arrivals into Zimbabwe grew marginally by 8,3 percent to 2,4 million in 2011, from 2,2 million in 2010.

The growth was attributed to the relative stability brought about by the formation of the coalition government in 2009.

Most visitors to Zimbabwe in 2011 were from Africa while only six percent arrived from the high-spending European markets, according to ZTA. - Bridget Mananavire

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