UNWTO Asia Pacific Forum: Feedback from an African Tourism Minister


The 28th United Nations World Tourism Organization joint Commission of South Asia and the Pacific in Nara, Japan concluded.

The minister of tourism from Zimbabwe Hon. Walter Mzembi told eTurboNews about his input. Minister Mzembi is also running to be voted in as the new UNWTO Secretary General at the upcoming 2017 election in China.

He stated: “Made an Africa Look East, Look Everywhere presentation, it was well received.

I Made a case for ZIMBABWE and the role of tourism in the Visit-Trade- Invest value chain , and how the East can leverage on its none historical baggage status to exploit win win partnerships with Africa,

It was already exemplified by FOCAC, Korea Africa Forum, TICAD, Indo Africa Forum, Thailand Africa Forum.

I urged more forums to mitigate African fragmentation born out of Colonialism.

I advocated for tailored funding for Tourism Development, as in the numerous instances it is not prioritized.

Tourism and SECURITY remains a key challenge, but I emphasized the broadening of insecurity to include natural disasters, health, food , which are akin to Africa.

I closed my presentation with an expose on AU Agenda 2063 and its attendant opportunities, that the Africa we want , going forward will bring to the fore many deals.

When the minister was asked by Zimbabwean Tinashe H Kanda why he would travel to Japan for a regional Asia/ Pacific regional conference he had this to respond:

I got an answer for Tinashe H Kanda, in response to a good question, why I travel ?

Zimbabwe is Chairperson for the UNWTO Commission for Africa. There are five others, that include the Americas, Europe, Middle East, South Asia and the Pacific. Regional Commissions convene one statutory meeting a year, to which Chairpersons are invited to chairs their own and attend the other five, in order to improve horizontal communication and enhance the nexus between source markets and destinations. Apart from this it is an opportunity for the country to do its sales pitch to a collective of countries, least cost under one roof usually a minimum of 30, apart from affiliates and associates. We do not have the budget as Zimbabwe to road shows to source markets to secure the business, so we have been creative in identifying events where countries gather in multiples, and all we ever do apart from headline interventions is to market and promote Zimbabwe, which is my brief as the Country’ s Chief Public Relations Officer.

The modus operandi has not changed, all Ministers past , and my successors will inevitably follow the same. The only difference is I amplify my work through communication tools like FB, Twitter, Instagram, etc and this is as it should be. Now an effective promotion of the country starts first with the Messenger, and he has to be appropriately branded, have the passion and must basically be an open cheque book ! I do so much with very little, probably the least in the world, and my colleagues will attest to this: What I am armed with as I discharge my mandate, in the first instance is passion( I love what I do) , and secondly creativity. These two combined with Team Tourism support, has given me unparalleled craft competence, and lots of experience which the world is now wanting to convert for its own use, hence international elective processes I am currently participating in.

I have the financial turnover performance at home to attest to the above, and by Minister of Finance’s own admission several times in the last three years, it is Tourism which is paying the bills, with a projected leading sectoral growth of 4.1% in 2015/6 ahead of Mining, Agriculture and Manufacturing…all this with the least fiscal support , check the Blue Book, I am right at the bottom. I have not complained which is now Zimbabwe’s epidemic disease numero uno, I have understood my role and obligations, summarized in turning adversity into opportunity. Adversity yes, a product of your collective loud mouths as Zimbabweans, many of you desecrating your Country Brand daily, a very toxic internal and international discourse which I must explain at every instance and still lure the world, and tourists.I am often asked the proverbial John 1:46 question ” Nazareth, Can anything good come out Nazareth?”, the answer by Phillip to Nathan was an invitation “Come and See”…

August 2013, I invited the world to ZIMBABWE, 20 th Session UNWTO General Assembly, to ” Come and See”, the rest is history…
Finally, the answer to ZIMBABWE’s woes, today and in the future is gonna be hard work, productivity…and I take comfort in the Lord Jesus himself, when confronted in a similar manner as you have done, he had this to say in defence: “Up to this day my Father is still at work, and so am I”

Nothing amazing about flying , ndidzo tsoka dzebasa rangu, hotels and being in other countries, ndiko kubasa kwangu..
Hatimire, kugona basa lyricist