Mzembi charms the French


TOURISM and Hospitality Industry Minister, Dr Walter Mzembi’s message of how world tourism should evolve appears to have landed on the French’s soft spot.
Dr Mzembi is currently on a charm-offensive around the world, seeking support for the post of Secretary-General of the United Nations World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO).
The affable and popular minister, in UNWTO circles, last week took his manifesto to France’s senior government officials.
France is regarded as the heart of European tourism and one of the super-powers in the global tourism industry.
The country is widely recognised as Europe’s number-one tourism destination, attracting in excess of 80 million visitors annually.
In economic terms, tourism constitutes some 10 percent of France’s annual Gross Domestic Product (GDP), with the industry directly employing more than two million people.
Not only has Dr Mzembi been recognised as one of the most hardworking ministers in Zimbabwe, but he has also been acknowledged as brilliant in the regional and international tourism bodies he serves.
Besides his brilliance and efficiency, he possesses the ultimate quality required in the tourism industry – charm.
It has become the norm for acquaintances and colleagues in the industry to wax lyrical when talking about the suave minister.
As one of the longest serving ministers of tourism in the world, he has acquired vast experience which has turned him into an authority on things tourism.
In France, Dr Mzembi addressed Jean-Pierre Lacroix, director for United Nations and other International Organisations within the French Foreign Ministry.
Thereafter, the Minister met Cyrille Pierre, Cabinet director for the Secretary of State for External Trade and Tourism Promotion.
After the presentations, Pierre commented Dr Mzembi ‘had touched on all the important points for France’.
Of importance to the French is the need for the UNWTO to develop and co-ordinate a comprehensive, effective and sensible response to the security challenges which continue to confront France and more broadly, the global tourism industry; the need for the tourism industry to be more inclusive, more balanced and to embrace and be accessible to all levels of society across all nations; for tourism to be more socially responsible; and for it to make an effective contribution towards the achievement of the UN’s sustainable development goals (SDG’s), three of which relate directly to tourism.
However, Dr Mzembi called for a holistic approach to the issue of terror.
“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,” he said.
“None of us is immune to the kind of mindless violence which has been unleashed against totally innocent men, women and children simply wishing to enjoy the beauty of nature, culture and art in their own and in foreign countries.”
Dr Mzembi highlighted how the impact of natural disasters and disease outbreaks, which have mostly impacted Africa and other developing regions, had to be taken into account.
“Under the umbrella of the UNWTO, yes, we need to come up with a co-ordinated, effective response to how we deal with the impact of terror and, beyond that, to how we deal with the tourism-related impact of natural disasters, the impact of disease pandemics such as Ebola, the impact of climate change; but in our approach to all of these challenges, perhaps, especially in so far as terror is concerned, we need to be measured, sensible and to guard against over-reaction.
“The most effective way of countering terror directed against tourists is for people of the world to keep travelling.”
The French described the interaction with Dr Mzembi as ‘an informative and constructive exchange of views’ about the UNWTO and its future trajectory, promising to keep in close touch with him.
“They were left in no doubt at all as to the pedigree of the candidate, his credentials and experience and his prescriptions to the challenges confronting global tourism”, said a source privy to the discussions at the French Foreign Ministry headquarters.
The final leg of the Minister’s current campaign will be to Rome, Italy.
The UNWTO executive council convenes at UNWTO Headquarters in Spain, in May 2017, to elect a successor to the incumbent, Taleb Rifai, of Jordan.


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