By Wallace Mawire
The African Union-endorsed candidate for the post of Secretary
General of the United Nations World Tourism Organisation, UNWTO , Dr
Walter Mzembi, Zimbabwe’s Minister of Tourism and the Hospitality
Industry, and the current Chairperson of the UNWTO Regional Commission
for Africa, is set to formally launch his candidature at a landmark
reception event to be held in Madrid, Spain on 19 January, 2017,
according to a statement released by the Zimbabwe Tourism Authority
The UNWTO has its Headquarters in Madrid.
ZTA reports that invited guests include representatives of all UNWTO
Member States, the Secretary General of the UNWTO and all Executive
Directors of the Organisation, as well as senior representatives of
the Spanish Ministries of Foreign Affairs and Tourism.
The reception will take place at the prestigious Torre de Cristal, in
the Four Towers central business district of downtown Madrid.
Unanimously endorsed by African Heads of State and Government at the
AU Summit held in Kigali, Rwanda in July, 2016, Dr Mzembi thus assumed
the mantle of Africa’s candidate for the top UNWTO post, a position
which has never before been held by an African.
In its confirmatory letter of endorsement, addressed to the Secretary
General of the UNWTO, the African Union Commission stated that:
“ It is the firm conviction of African Heads of State and Government
as evidenced by their unanimous endorsement of Dr Mzembi’s candidature
that he has the qualifications, skills and competence, the vision and,
equally as important, the drive and passion to successfully build on
the remarkable legacy bequeathed to global tourism by His Excellency
Dr Rifai, and to lead the Organisation and global tourism to new
heights of relevance, recognition and results tourism being an
effective vehicle for sustainable development, the building of deeper
understanding between peoples and cultures and for the reinforcement
of the quest for greater global harmony and peace”.
Dr Mzembi has served as Zimbabwe’s Minister of Tourism and the
Hospitality Industry since 2009. Prior to that, he held various
positions in both the public and private sectors in Zimbabwe and
internationally including heading the Zimbabwe delegation to the
ACP-EU Joint Parliamentary Assembly for three consecutive years.
He has represented his country on the UNWTO Executive Council and is
currently serving his second consecutive term as Chairperson of the
UNWTO’s Regional Commission for Africa.
Dr Mzembi has a long-standing, deep and abiding passion for tourism in
all its many facets, as well as a well-defined and clearly articulated
vision for the future development of the global tourism industry under
the umbrella of the UNWTO.
According to the ZTA, the launch event in Madrid will provide an
appropriate opportunity and platform for Dr Mzembi to outline his
vision and to provide an overview of how, if elected Secretary
General, he intends to lead the UNWTO to those “new heights of
relevance, recognition and results”.