Zimbabwe and Zambia yesterday moved closer to clinching the bid to co-host the 2013 United Nations World Tourism Organisation general assembly after many high profile people including UNWTO secretary general Mr Talib Rifai, said the two countries had displayed enough commitment and seriousness to guarantee their success.
The decision on who will host the event that brings together 176 countries under one roof, will be announced on Friday.
In an interview soon after attending the Victoria Falls dinner hosted by the two countries at the upmarket Grand Ballroom, Hilton Hotel, Mr Rifai said the campaign strategy, the commitment and level of engagement shown by the two countries guaranteed their success in winning the bid.
“I am excited about being here tonight. I am delighted and confident that the seriousness and commitment shown by the two countries guarantees their success in winning the bid. It is self-guaranteeing. I sense a win together with Africa.
“I am personally expecting to be at the Victoria Falls in 2013.
“At the moment, there is more seriousness, more activity and more innovations in Africa in terms of tourism than anywhere else in the world.
“The rest of the tourist products are now tired and lacking new innovations.
“The future of world tourism now lies in Africa. Africa is the place.
“There is a lot of effort in terms of tourism development and promotion by both African Governments and private sector.
“So the future is in Africa,” said the UNWTO boss.
Earlier during the day Seychelles and Gabon, told a Tourism Ministers Round Table meeting that voting for Zimbabwe/Zambia bid was the only way.
Seychelles Tourism Board chairman, Mr Alain St Ange, who stood in for his President, publicly dismissed counter bids by Russia, Jordan, Turkey and Qatar, saying it was Africa’ time.
“In my country, the President is the Minister of Tourism and I work directly under him.
“He sent me to say, there is no other bid better than what Zimbabwe and Zambia have shown.
“My country is very excited and I am also personally excited about the idea of Zimbabwe and Zambia bidding for the 2013 UNWTO general assembly.
“In Africa tourism is business and it can get people together.
“The Zimbabwe/Zambia bid is the grand finale of tourism in Africa. I really believe Africa will win,” he said.
Gabon Tourism and Culture Minister Mrs Fatur Njie, said the tourism world should rally behind Zimbabwe and Zambia as their bid was the best.
“We should not waste time. We must go to Victoria Falls for 2013.
“It is the best bid and it is the way. This is Africa’s time. Africa’s time has come,” she said much to applause.
Tourism and Hospitality Industry Walter Mzembi and his Zambia counterpart, Mr Given Lubinda put up a spirited bid at the oversubscribed Victoria Falls sparkling dinner jointly hosted by the two countries, yesterday.
The two ministers gave collaborating evidence on the preparedness and commitment of the two countries and their unity of purpose in hosting the mega-event that is only second to the Commonwealth Heads of State and Government summit held in the late 1980s.
If won, the bid will be the biggest ultimate endorsement of the new brand, Zimbabwe A World of Wonders and there will be a tourism fete for Southern Africa, due to spillover effects.
The hosting will also give Zimbabwe the much needed impetus to retain its image as Africa’s safest and highly attractive tourist destination.