Zimbabwean Government has nominated Tourism and Hospitality Industry Minister Engineer Walter Mzembi as its candidate for the post of United Nations World Tourism Organisation Secretary-General that falls vacant next year.
The post is currently held by Dr Taleb Rifai of Jordan.
Dr Mzembi will battle it out with other candidates such as Mr Alain St. Ange, Minister for Tourism and Culture in the Seychelles, among others.
Announcing Zimbabwe’s candidature for the post, Information, Media and Broadcasting Services Minister Dr Christopher Mushohwe, said Eng Mzembi also had the backing of the Sadc.
He described Eng Mzembi as one of Zimbabwe’s best candidates ready to serve at the global level.
“The Government of Zimbabwe, as an active member of the UNWTO, has a tried and tested candidate for the position of Secretary-General that falls vacant in 2017,” he said.
“We humbly offer our candidate and in this case, Zimbabwe’s best to the world. Zimbabwe presents Dr Engineer Walter Mzembi, the current Minister of Tourism and Hospitality Industry and the chairman of the UNWTO Regional Commission for Africa, as the candidate for the position of Secretary-General of the UNWTO.
“As a country we are committed to the growth of global tourism. We are convinced that Dr Eng Mzembi will acquit himself should he be given this honour.”
Dr Mushohwe said Zimbabwe viewed tourism as a sustainable sector that could help in uplifting people’s lives globally.
He described tourism as a diplomatic bridge that helped to keep people connected globally.
“Essentially, tourism plays an important role in (the) socio-economic development of our economies globally,” he said.
“In 2015 alone, the UNWTO Tourism Barometer said tourism contributed about 9 percent in terms of the global GDP, employed over 266 million people worldwide and generated over $1,5 trillion in revenue.
“According to the Ministry of Finance and Economic Development, in Zimbabwe, tourism is leading in projected growth by 4,1 percent, ahead of mining, manufacturing and agriculture that has unfortunately been adversely affected by the vagaries of the El Nino-induced drought.”
Dr Mushohwe said President Mugabe in his capacity as the Head of State and Government expressed Zimbabwe’s highest commitment to the tourism sector by becoming the 30th signatory of the UNWTO/World Travel and Tourism Council Golden Book on Tourism.
He added that the President was also a recipient of the book’s open letter.
Should he win the election, Eng Mzembi pledged that he would not disappoint Zimbabwe and Africa at large.
“I will not let you down. I wish to say Zimbabwe’s candidature is responding to the clarion call and overtures that have been made by (UNWTO) member states,” he said.
“I wish to confirm and accept very humbly this honour that has been bestowed on me by the Government of Zimbabwe in representing it in this elective process for the position of UNWTO Secretary-General.”
Eng Mzembi paid tribute to President Mugabe for allowing him to take up the challenge of standing as a candidate for a global organisation such as the UNWTO.
“I wish to share with you that last week, I had the pleasure of engaging the President of Zimbabwe on this subject and he gave me his absolute assurance that he is with me and he is with you as Team Zimbabwe in this campaign.”
The UNWTO has a membership of 157 countries, six associate members and 480 affiliate members representing the private sector, educational institutions, tourism associations and local tourism authorities.
Zimbabwe joined the organisation in 1982.
Eng Mzembi has been in charge of a number of portfolios in both the private and public sectors, and he has been awarded various tourism-related accolades at national, regional and international levels.
He put himself on the international map when Zimbabwe and Zambia successfully co-hosted the 20th session of the UNWTO General Assembly in August 2013.
Some of the tourism-related positions he has held include: chairperson, Southern Africa Development Community Committee of Ministers Responsible for Tourism (2015); Executive Council Member, UNWTO (2013); Regional Commission for Africa chairperson, UNWTO (2013 to date); three-time president of African Travel Association; Tourism Builder of the Year (2014); African Tourism Minister of the Year (2011); Africa Travel Association: Outstanding Service to the Association (2012); Special Recognition for Excellence Award: African Achievers Awards (2012), among others.
Eng Mzembi is a holder of doctorate degree in Business Management from Aldersgate University College, in the Philippines. His dissertation is titled “An Exploratory Study of Conservation Management in Zimbabwe: A Governance Perspective”.
He is also holds a Master of Business Administration and Production Management (Azteca, Mexico); a diploma in Mechanical Engineering (Northern Technical College, Zambia), among others.