Dickson Mangena, Business Reporter
PLAYERS in the tourism and hospitality industry have expressed satisfaction at the fighting spirit exhibited by the Minister of Tourism and Hospitality Dr Walter Mzembi trying to assume one of the highest offices in world tourism.
African Union-sponsored candidate Dr Mzembi narrowly lost to Mr Zurab Polilakashvilli of Georgia in a tightly contested United Nations World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO) election for the position of secretary general held on Friday.
Dr Mzembi led in the first round, however, lost in the second round after getting 15 votes, three short of his rival’s 18. In a telephone interview with Sunday News, Employers Association of Tourism and Safari Operators president Mr Clement Mukwasi said Dr Mzembi’s charge towards assuming the post of UNWTO was a call for celebration for Africa and Zimbabwe, despite the loss.
“We have to celebrate Africa’s resilience up until the end of the elections. Although we lost, elections are not always about winning. His progress to second place is a milestone and with that we hope that it will culminate to much more for tourism in the country and Africa,” he said.
Mr Mukwasi however, said had Dr Mzembi’s won, it was going to transform the world’s tourism sector especially in Africa.
“He might have lost but I feel that world tourism also lost a candidate of the highest pedigree. There will also be other opportunities for him, we wish him well. We however, congratulate the winner and hope that he will take tourism to another level in consultation with the likes of Dr Mzembi,” he said.
Hospitality Association of Zimbabwe president Mr Innocent Manyira said Dr Mzembi’s bid to head UNWTO was a push to have an African representative among the top hierarchy.
“This was nothing but a worthy investment for us Zimbabweans as well as for Africa. We were pushing to have representation in the highest offices in the tourism sector, we gave it a try since Africa had not tried this before. It was unfortunate that in the second round a lot of factors may have played but it means we got extra votes to get to 15,” said Mr Manyira.
He also said the campaign by Dr Mzembi has left a mark in the world of tourism for Africa and Zimbabwe.
“We left a mark in the world of tourism to say that as Africa we are also up there and we can also lead in world tourism. Africa recognised Zimbabwe as a worthy candidate and together we pushed. This has left only confidence in Africa and the potential that we have,” Mr Manyira said.