Mzembi takes world tourism cam­paign to France

Chronicle (Zimbabwe) - - Business - Spe­cial Correspondent

PARIS – Tourism and the Hos­pi­tal­ity In­dus­try Min­is­ter, Dr Wal­ter Mzembi, has ex­tended his cam­paign to be­come the next Sec­re­tary Gen­eral of the UN World Tourism Or­gan­i­sa­tion (UNWTO) to France, where he met with se­nior of­fi­cials of the French Min­istry of For­eign Af­fairs and In­ter­na­tional Co­op­er­a­tion.

He ac­knowl­edged the sig­nif­i­cance of France, a key player in Euro­pean tourism, as one of the su­per-pow­ers in the global tourism in­dus­try.

The min­is­ter first met with Mr Jean-Pierre Lacroix, Di­rec­tor for United Na­tions and other In­ter­na­tional Or­gan­i­sa­tions within the French For­eign Min­istry last week.

This was fol­lowed by a meet­ing with Mr Cyrille Pierre, Cabi­net Di­rec­tor for the Sec­re­tary of State for Ex­ter­nal Trade and Tourism Pro­mo­tion - again within the French Min­istry of For­eign Af­fairs and In­ter­na­tional Co­op­er­a­tion.

Dr Mzembi’s visit comes in re­sponse to an in­vi­ta­tion ex­tended to him by the French au­thor­i­ties, which was is­sued in the im­me­di­ate wake of the unan­i­mous en­dorse­ment of his can­di­da­ture by African heads of State and Govern­ment at the re­cent AU Sum­mit meet­ing in Ki­gali, Rwanda.

Re­spect­ful of Africa’s de­ci­sion, the French au­thor­i­ties wished to hear first hand from the con­ti­nent’s can­di­date for the top UNWTO job, to com­pare pol­icy thrusts go­ing for­ward and to sat­isfy them­selves that the in­ter­ests of the global tourism sec­tor will be in safe hands.

Given France’s sta­tus as a ma­jor force within the global tourism in­dus­try, and the fact that France is a mem­ber of the UNWTO Ex­ec­u­tive Coun­cil, their sup­port will be cru­cial if Dr Mzembi is to clinch the or­gan­i­sa­tion’s top job when the Coun­cil con­venes at UNWTO head­quar­ters in Spain, in May 2017, to elect a suc­ces­sor to the in­cum­bent, Mr Taleb Ri­fai of Jor­dan.

France is widely recog­nised as Europe’s num­ber one tourism desti­na­tion, at­tract­ing in ex­cess of 80 mil­lion vis­i­tors a year.

In eco­nomic terms, tourism con­sti­tutes some 10 per­cent of France’s Gross Do­mes­tic Prod­uct, with the in­dus­try di­rectly em­ploy­ing more than two mil­lion peo­ple.

Ac­knowl­edg­ing the piv­otal role played by France in the gen­e­sis of what is, to­day, the UNWTO, Dr Mzembi paid glow­ing trib­ute to the pi­o­neer­ing work of Robert Lonati, a French na­tional, who headed the In­ter­na­tional Union of Of­fi­cial Travel Or­gan­i­sa­tions (IUOTO) from 1957 un­til 1974, build­ing it in terms of mem­ber­ship and fo­cus and steer­ing it to be­come, in 1975, the UNWTO, with its head­quar­ters in Madrid, Spain.

The min­is­ter paid sim­i­lar trib­ute to an­other French na­tional, Franceso Frangelli, who headed the UNWTO for three con­sec­u­tive terms, from 1997 to 2009, and who over­saw the pro­cesses lead­ing to its be­com­ing a Spe­cialised Agency within the United Na­tions fam­ily in 2003.

“The im­por­tance that France at­taches to tourism, in all its multi-faceted as­pects, is very clear”, said the Min­is­ter.

“Tourism is a ma­jor com­po­nent of the French econ­omy, con­tribut­ing hugely to the fis­cus, to em­ploy­ment cre­ation and to over­all na­tional de­vel­op­ment.

“France is there­fore more than just a nor­mal stake­holder in the global tourism in­dus­try. Nat­u­rally, UNWTO is an im­por­tant or­gan­i­sa­tion for them. Nat­u­rally, France will take a very keen in­ter­est in who so ever is elected to lead that or­gan­i­sa­tion go­ing for­ward”, he noted.

“That is why I am here in Paris. So that those re­spon­si­ble for the tourism in­dus­try, for pol­icy-mak­ing with re­gard to the fu­ture de­vel­op­ment of tourism both to and from France, and glob­ally, can meet me, get a feel for me and what I am able bring to the UNWTO ta­ble”.

His French hosts were ef­fu­sive in their con­grat­u­la­tions on his can­di­da­ture and in their recog­ni­tion of his un­doubted qual­i­fi­ca­tions for the job.

Con­firm­ing him­self to be in com­plete agree­ment with the im­por­tant ar­eas of fo­cus raised by his French hosts, Dr Mzembi ze­roed in on the scourge of ter­ror, not­ing that “the is­sue of tourism and se­cu­rity is a con­sis­tent theme emerg­ing from all those with whom I meet as I en­gage mem­bers of the Ex­ec­u­tive Coun­cil and in­deed oth­ers - whether it is in North­ern Africa, Eastern Africa or here in Europe”.

The fi­nal leg of the Min­is­ter’s cur­rent cam­paign visit will be to Rome, Italy, where he is sched­uled to meet with his coun­ter­part.

Whilst in Italy, Dr Mzembi has re­quested to visit the area of Ama­trice, in the cen­tral Ital­ian prov­ince of Um­bria - the epi­cen­tre of the dev­as­tat­ing earth­quake which struck the re­gion on 23 Au­gust 2016. It is not yet cer­tain whether the Ital­ian au­thor­i­ties will be able to ac­com­mo­date the Min­is­ter’s re­quest - given the still very chal­leng­ing sit­u­a­tion on the ground in the area of Ama­trice.

Min­is­ter Wal­ter Mzembi

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