ZIMBABWE and Zambia have won the bid to co-host the 2013 United Nations World Tourism Organisation General Assembly in Victoria Falls.
Tourism and Hospitality Minister Walter Mzembi’s (pictured) dream of hosting such an event came true. He made the pledge in 2009, three months into his current role, that he wanted to see such a landmark event hosted in the country.
He also said he wanted to see Zimbabwe “join the family of nations” by hosting the World Travel & Tourism Council (WTTC) in Victoria Falls in 2012, among other notable events.
This dream has now come to fruition.
The victory makes it the second time for Africa to host the event after Senegal did so in 2005.
The proclamation by UNWTO secretary general Talib Rifai yesterday morning came a day after he declared that the Zimbabwe/Zambia bid was the only serious, complete and comprehensive one, beating bids submitted by powerhouses like Russia, Turkey, Jordan and Qatar.
“Since Zimbabwe and Zambia deposited their bid with us at our headquarters in Madrid, Spain, about two months ago, we were very worried and we studied it carefully. After three or four days, we realised that the bid was complete, comprehensive and serious.
“It was a good job well done and well explained. There was no question of any sort that was not answered.
“Throughout this 19th Session of the UNWTO here in South Korea, I tried by all means to refrain myself from announcing the Zimbabwe/Zambia win, since even my own country of origin, Jordan was bidding.
“So this bid has gone to Africa. It is gone to Zambia and Zimbabwe. I am personally eagerly awaiting the opportunity to be at the Victoria Falls for the UNWTO. Zimbabwe and Zambia become the second hosts in Africa to win the bid after Senegal in 2005.
“Therefore, Senegal should help Zimbabwe and Zambia organise the event to international standards,” said Mr Rifai at the close of the UNWTO assembly, here.
The Zimbabwean delegation, led by Tourism and Hospitality Industry Minister Walter Mzembi and Zimbabwe Tourism Authority chief executive Karikoga Kaseke, celebrated with their Zambian counterparts led by Tourism and Information Minister Given Lubinda.
Added Rifai : “UNWTO is the only UN organ that holds its general assembly away from its headquarters in Madrid, Spain. I am aware that the general assembly creates jobs, endorses brands and brings people together through wider networking.”
Co-hosting Ministers Mzembi and Lubinda, said they will immediately inform their principals back home of the victory and work should start immediately to ensure the hosting becomes a success.
“We take this opportunity to invite the UNWTO secretariat, member states and affiliate members and others with experience in hosting the UNWTO General assembly and other similar events to provide technical and other assistance to our two governments and to our joint planning teams preparing for the 20th UNWTO General Assembly.
“We will immediately proceed to brief our principals in detail and embark on the way forward on the hosting of the 20th session of the UNWTO General Assembly.
“We also take this opportunity to welcome all member countries of the UNWTO to the mighty Victoria Falls in 2013. We promise them a uniquely African 20th session,” said the two ministers in a communiqué.
Minister Mzembi said: “Zimbabwe is a comeback kid and has modest and peaceful people. We are governing by consensus.
“We are dealing with our political problems from within and are happy about our progress. We are communicating a message of peace and tranquility.
“Zimbabwe and Zambia will be waiting to host you. Come and we will show you your new home. This is the real Africa and African hospitality. Nothing beats what we will show you.”
Secretary for Tourism and Hospitality Industry Dr Sylvester Maunganidze and Zimbabwe Immigration boss Clemence Masango are among dignitaries.
The bid will bring 176 countries to Victoria Falls, the largest world gathering of countries in Zimbabwe since the Commonwealth Heads of State and Government Meeting held in the resort town, about two decades ago.
The hosting will be the biggest endorser of the new brand, Zimbabwe a World of Wonders and a serious enabler of the tourism and hospitality industries.