UNWTO presents opportunities for Zim

HARARE - United Nations World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO) General Assembly 20th session officially gets underway today in the resort town of Victoria Falls where Zimbabwe and Zambia are co-hosting the week-long event.

This is the second time that Africa is hosting the event following the successful indaba hosted by Senegal in 2005.

UNWTO General Assembly brings 186 countries to Victoria Falls and there are serious benefits to be reaped from this event.

The UNWTO represents public sector tourism bodies, from most countries in the world and the publication of its data makes possible comparisons of the flow and growth of tourism on a global scale.

UNWTO plays a role in promoting the development of responsible, sustainable and universally accessible tourism, paying particular attention to the interests of developing countries.

Tourism accounts for 45 percent of the exports of developing countries and is often one of the sectors in which developing countries enjoy a competitive advantage given their abundant natural resources.

For Zimbabwe, there is no other time than this crucial moment to seize with both hands the opportunities that the UNWTO brings.

Both the Zimbabwe Tourism Authority (ZTA) and its ministry, it is our hope, have made necessary steps to market the brand “Zimbabwe a World of Wonders”.

Clear and investor-friendly promises are key to regaining our status as one of the preferred tourists’ attractions.

Zimbabwe has suffered in the past as a result of lack of rule of law and human rights violations but there have been rapid improvements in those areas.

It is important that government supports the industry by giving more incentives to tour operators and key players in the hospitality industry.

Zimbabwe stands on good stead of reaping the benefits of this extravaganza but as long as we incentivise the tourism industry, maintain rule of law, improve the road network and make Air Zimbabwe viable.

Already there is work in progress in rehabilitating our road network and there are signs that Air Zimbabwe could reposition itself as one of the trusted airlines.

There is no reason why regional airlines should dominate our tourism destinations when we have a national airline.

Part of making sure that the airline remains in the black is to remit part of the proceeds that come from tourism and services in the form of a levy.

But above all, creating a friendly environment and moving at the same pace with the rest of the world, could make Zimbabwe a preferred destination once again.

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