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UNWTO Candidate Walter Mzembi Set to Speak in Top U.S Forum

Zimbabwe’s Tourism Minister Walter Mzembi, who is eyeing the post of secretary general of the United Nations World Tourism Organization (UNWTO), is expected on Tuesday to attend U.S president Barack Obama’s Bloomberg Foundation and U.S. Department of Commerce’s CEO Forum in New York.

According to his personal assistant, Dr. Darlington Muzeza, Mzembi is set to share his thoughts on various issues in a panel titled ‘Developing Tourism Industry’.

Dr. Muzeza said Mzembi is also expected to attend the African Investment Forum on the sidelines of the United Nations General Assembly. President Robert Mugabe is attending the U.N General Assembly.

On Monday, Mzembi was a panelist in the 11th Annual Presidential Forum on Africa Tourism, which brought together high profile tourism leaders from Africa to spotlight the critical role tourism plays in driving socio-economic growth and development.

Zimbabwe Tourism Minister Walter Mzembi
Zimbabwe Tourism Minister Walter Mzembi

New York University Africa House hosted the event in collaboration with the Africa Travel Association, an appendage of the Corporate Council on Africa.

Some of the people who attended the event included Erastus Mwencha, deputy chairperson of the Africa Union Commission, Seirra Leone’s Tourism Minister Sidi Yahya, Nina Walett Intallou, and Francis Gatare of the Rwanda Development Board, among several other delegates.

Mzembi has already been endorsed as Africa’s candidate for the United Nations World Tourism Organization secretary general’s post. His candidature was endorsed a few months ago by the African Union Heads of State and Government Summit in Kigali, Rwanda.

In his website, Mzembi says, “My Vision is for a UNWTO which is responsive to Member States aspirations for a global tourism that is inclusive, integrative, tolerant, responsible, empowering, equitable, sustainable, and an effective tool for public diplomacy.”

The post falls vacant in May 2017 when incumbent Dr. Taleb Rifai’s term expires. Mzembi was appointed Zimbabwe’s tourism minister in 2009 and has found his way into the UNWTO executive council, which plays a critical role in developing tourism worldwide. Since its inception in 1975, no African has held the position of secretary general of the UNWTO. The secretary general is the chief administrative officer of the organization.

The UNWTO is the United Nations’ agency responsible for the promotion of responsible, sustainable and universally accessible tourism. It promotes tourism as a driver of economic growth, inclusive development and environmental sustainability and offers leadership and support to the sector in advancing knowledge and tourism policies worldwide.

In its website, the organization says it generates market knowledge, promotes competitive and sustainable tourism policies and instruments, fosters tourism education and training, and works to make tourism an effective tool for development through technical assistance projects in over 100 countries around the world.

UNWTO’s membership includes 157 countries, six associate members and 500 affiliate members representing the private sector, educational institutions, tourism associations and local tourism authorities.

Meanwhile, reports that Bloomberg Philanthropies and the U.S. Department of Commerce will this week also co-host the second U.S.-Africa Business Forum, a day focused on increased trade and investment between the U.S. and African nations.

The U.S.-Africa Business Forum will build on the progress of the inaugural Forum, held during the 2014 U.S.-Africa Leaders’ Summit with the participation of nearly 50 heads of state or government and more than 150 global CEOs – to further develop trade and business opportunities between the United States and Africa.