By Daniel Chigundu
TOURISM and Hospitality Industry Minister Walter Mzembi has called on Sub-Saharan Africa and Zimbabwe to efficiently market their peace so that they can attract tourists who have been put-off by conflicts elsewhere.
Sub-Saharan Africa and Zimbabwe are generally peaceful and have not had wars for as many years unlike other regions in the continent.
Addressing the media Minister Mzembi said peace and security are important enablers of tourism that need efficient marketing as no tourist would want to go to places that have conflicts.
“We are reminded at several international fora, by the world that you are not doing sufficient enough in terms of marketing peace and stability that obtain in Sub-Saharan Africa in order to take advantage of those that have opted to stay home from destinations that they used to traffic to because they have now become insecure.
“Southern Africa is not doing sufficiently enough to market peace and security that obtain within its borders and Zimbabwe is also guilt of that inability to highlight its peace and security.
“We have a 33 year old tourist safety record in this country were we have not had any loss of life due to insecurity, the last one being I think it was in Victoria Falls area during the insecurity days post independence 1983 and we forget to sell this,” he said.
Minister Mzembi added that the country’s peace and security are some of the issues that have gone unheralded for some time and that they formed the basis of his UNWTO campaign in the last six to eight months.
“I can share with you, which formed the very large component of my campaign in the last 6 to 8 months; it’s the aspect of peace and security being the chief enabler of the tourism sector. Peace and security underwriting sustainability of the tourism sector and we are not harvesting sufficient dividends of this peace and security.
“If you examine the hotspots of Africa you will see that tourism has run away from certain spots of Africa, we are not taking sufficient advantage of the peace and stability that obtains in our region, in sub-Saharan Africa,” Mzembi said.
Minister Mzembi, who is still hopeful of landing the UNWTO secretary general post, added that Sub-Saharan Africa must celebrate its peace adding that peace is the number one product before all the various attractions available.
“What I merchandise and sell most ahead of everything, ahead of Victoria Falls, ahead of Great Zimbabwe, ahead of our habitat and our biodiversity is peace and security because it doesn’t matter how attractive your attractions are if they are situate in a conflict zone nobody will come, nobody will visit.
“So we must celebrate peace and stability, peace and security that is our product number one in the country,” he added.
Meanwhile, Zimbabwe will on June 2, 2017 join the rest of the world by launching the International Year of Sustainable Tourism for Development (IYSTD).
The United Nations General Assembly declared 2017 as the IYSTD and this is in recognition of tourism as a critical pillar of economies, a passport to prosperity, and a transformative force for improving millions of lives across the globe.
Vice President Emmerson Mnangagwa is expected to officially launch the program at the Harare International Conference Centre.