Tourism and Hospitality Industry Minister Walter Mzembi has said the upcoming United Nations World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO) general assembly to be held in August should be used as a yardstick to measure the country’s hospitality.
Zimbabwe and Zambia won the joint bid to co-host the high-profile tourism event at the 19th session in Seoul, South Korea, in October 2011 after brushing off stiff competition from Russia and Japan.
Approximately 5 000 delegates are expected to attend the event, to be hosted in Africa for the second time after Senegal in 2005.
Minister Mzembi said Zimbabweans should make the most of the event since the
country might not get another chance to host it again in the near future.
He said there was no other practical way to test the country’s customer service, warmth and hospitality than the general assembly.
“Let us make our mark as much as possible, let us put our best foot forward as much as we can because we will not see it again in our lifetime or domain in the Victoria Falls destination or any other destination that may compete in the future,” he said.
“The immigration department will be the frontline soldiers playing a significant role in terms of reception of delegates the first three minutes they land to brand Zimbabwe in their first encounter with our country.”
Minister Mzembi said the policy agenda for UNWTO was opening and breaking barriers to travel.
He said there was need to look at bench marking visa regimes and immigration laws, citing the United States which he said was tapping capital and the best brains through its green card.
The UNWTO consists of 155 countries, seven territories and over 400 affiliate members representing the private sector, educational institutions, tourism associations and local tourism authorities.
It promotes the development of responsible, sustainable and universally accessible tourism, paying particular attention to the interests of developing countries.