SOUTH Africa has become the latest country to throw its weight behind the bid by Zimbabwe’s tourism minister Walter Mzembi to land the United Nations World Tourism Organisation Secretary General post.
Mzembi has already received the backing of the African Union and the Southern African Development Committee (SADC).
The Minister, who currently leads the UNWTO Africa section, led Zimbabwe’s bid to successfully host the UNWTO general assembly in 2013.
He has since gone on a charm offensive across the world in a bid to succeed Jordanian Dr. Taleb Rifai who is due to stand down from the post at the end of 2017.
Speaking at a high profile diplomatic dinner, the South African government hosted in honour of Dr Walter Mzembi, Pretoria’s Minister of Tourism for South Africa Dr Tokozile Xasa said, Africa must demonstrate unity of purpose in the forthcoming UNWTO SG elections by voting for Minister Mzembi.
“Africa is presenting itself as a united continent. By so doing Africa will give a proper agenda to the world because it’s Africa’s time now,” said Dr Xasa.
“We South Africans, we stand today in support of his candidature and we believe that Minister Mzembi’s great vision for global tourism is a reflection that Africa is rising.
“This is an opportunity for regional integration so that we can improve our market share collectively.”
Commending the gesture shown by the South African government and the entire Continent, Minister Mzembi made an undertaking to advance transformative leadership at the UNWTO saying it’s important to deal with issues around connectivity, facilitation of seamless travel, sustainable and responsible tourism and rebranding of the entire organisation.
“We want to sustain the enormous gains already made in promoting and facilitating seamless travel and to enhance the performance of our sector,” he said.
“I would like for the organisation to be able to better and more effectively respond to the developmental aspirations of member states.
“Connectivity, be it infrastructural, electronic, digital or virtual is the revolutionary agenda of our times and with it comes growth of tourism.”
The dinner, held in Pretoria, was attended by among others, ambassadors and members of the diplomatic corps accredited to the Republic of South Africa including Zimbabwe’s Ambassador to South Africa Isaac Moyo.
If elected, Minister Mzembi, will take up his post at the Organisation’s headquarters in Madrid, Spain, in January 2018.