MEDELLIN, Colombia – Zambia yesterday made her first appearance in 35 years at the UN World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) Executive Council held on the sidelines of the UNWTO General Assembly at Plaza Mayor in the Colombian city of Medellin.
Tourism and Arts Permanent Secretary, Stephen Mwansa, led the Zambian team that also included Zambian Ambassador to France, Humphrey Chibanda; Zambia Tourism Board Managing Director, Felix Chaila; and Director of Tourism in the Ministry of Tourism and Arts, Ambassador Albert Mushanga.
The UNWTO Executive Council’s role is to take all necessary measures, in consultation with the Secretary-General, for the implementation of its own decisions and recommendations of the Assembly.
A place on the Executive Council enables Zambia to add her voice on the various matters brought forward by subsidiary organizations such as programs and budgets, tourism and sustainability, tourism and competitiveness, statistics and the tourism satellite account, as well as the review of applications for affiliate membership.
Addressing the Zambian delegation shortly after the close of the General Assembly, Tourism and Arts Permanent Secretary Stephen Mwansa said Zambia takes its new position on the Executive Council seriously and will use it to enhance Zambia’s image as a leading tourism destination. He added that the showcasing of Zambia’s new “Zambia – Let’s Explore” promotional video to the entire General Assembly was a clear demonstration of Zambia’s resolve to market the country aggressively.
He said Zambia will take immediate follow-up actions on all key issues discussed at the General Assembly such as the need for UNWTO member countries to prioritize air connectivity, the development of a tourism export strategy, and meeting financial and statutory obligations, among others.
Mr. Mwansa said as a new member of the Executive Council, Zambia cannot afford to be behind on any statutory or financial obligations to the UNWTO.
Meanwhile, Mr. Mwansa has revealed that plans are underway to twin the city of Livingstone with the Colombian city of Medellin. Mr. Mwansa said the twinning will go beyond traditional tourism activities to include the acquisition of best practices in shopping tourism, MICE tourism (Meetings, Incentives, Conferences & Exhibitions), as well as community tourism.
The permanent secretary said his ministry would immediately engage the local government and Housing ministry with a view to sending a team of civic Leaders to Medellin to share insights on the role of municipalities in the promotion of tourism as Medellin offers some of the best practices.
Once known for being the stronghold of drug cartels, the city of Medellin has seen one of the most remarkable urban turn-arounds in modern history and has been voted the world’s most innovative city by the Wall Street Journal and Citi Bank.
Tourism is Colombia’s second highest foreign exchange earner accounting for more than 60 percent of the country’s exports and services, generating one in every 8 jobs, with a projection of 300,000 new jobs and a 6 billion dollar income by 2018.
Zambia was elected into the UNWTO Executive Council on September 12, 2015 at the 57th meeting of the Commission for Africa held in Medellin, Colombia.
Despite joining the tourism world body way back in 1975, Zambia had until now, remained only a committee member.
Meanwhile, the next UNWTO General Assembly in 2017 will be hosted by China, following the country’s successful bid that was followed by a spectacular visual display of 9 volumes of “Poetic Kung Fu” at a celebratory “China Night” dinner held in Medellin on Monday, September 14, and attended by over 60 tourism ministers from UNWTO member countries.
Zambia and Zimbabwe co-hosted the previous General Assembly in August 2013 at Victoria Falls, and both now play a key role in the affairs of the global tourism body.