The United Nations World Tourism Organisation Secretary General, Mr Taleb Rifai has officially confirmed his visit to Zimbabwe and Zambia from May 28 to 30 this year.
Mr Rifai confirmed his visit to the two countries during a meeting held in Berlin, Germany on the sidelines of the on-going International Tourism Bourse.
He was meeting Tourism and Hospitality Industry Minister Walter Mzembi and his Zambian counterpart Mr Given Lubinda.
Mr Rifai said his visit to Zimbabwe and Zambia was the highest level of re-engagement between the two countries and the UN agency on tourism.
He expressed hope that the two countries will leverage on it to derive maximum benefits.
“This visit will also be political, let’s use it to raise awareness and build excitement around the continent and beyond for the next General Assembly. Even the general public should have interest in this important event,” he said.
Mr Rifai also expressed his desire to meet all tourism key stakeholders including Government, private sector, legislators, the media and civil society during his official visit.
He said he was impressed by the report he received from the UNWTO inspection team that assessed facilities and progress in Zambia and Zimbabwe a fortnight ago.
“We received with satisfaction the news that the inspection team is happy with preparations to date.
“We look forward to all preparations being concluded satisfactorily ahead of the General Assembly.”
He however, noted the importance for all outstanding bilateral issues between Zambia and Zimbabwe to be finalised by the time of the visit.
Minister Mzembi, who arrived at the meeting from Chicago, USA where he was on a UNWTO General Assembly popularisation and investment tour, said the 20th session’s success would be measured by the absolute turn out of the 200 member countries and 400 business affiliate organisations to the UNWTO.
He said Mr Rifai’s visit should mark the beginning of the official count down to the main event whose dates has now been confirmed.
The UNTWO general assembly will run from August 24 to 29 August 2013. Minister Mzembi underscored the need to brand the event uniquely African.
The Victoria Falls meeting will also see the election of the new secretary general with Zimbabwe throwing its weight behind Mr Rifai’s candidature.