African nations have nominated a Zimbabwean, Walter Mzembi, as their candidate to become the new head of the United Nations World Tourism Organisation.
Should Mzembi get the post, it will be the first time in the organisation’s 43-year history that an African would head the organisation.
Speaking during the UN General Assembly in New York, Africa’s longest-serving tourism minister said that he was humbled and privileged to have been chosen by the government of Zimbabwe, the Southern African Development Community and the African Union as the continent’s candidate.
“Since the establishment of the UNWTO in 1974, no African has ever become its secretary general.
“Almost all the geographical areas of the world have produced a secretary-general, except Africa.
“In fact in 42 years, three secretaries-general have come from Europe, while one each has come from the Americas and Asia.
“I am therefore delighted to be representing my region as the continent’s united candidate”.
If elected, Mzembi will come on board in 2017, during the “International Year of Sustainable Tourism for Development”.
A former member of the UNWTO’s executive council, and current chairman of the UNWTO’s Commission for Africa, Mzembi was instrumental in convening the 20th UNWTO General Assembly in 2013.
“The UN-WTO is the world’s leading international organisation promoting tourism as a driver of economic growth, environmental sustainability and inclusive development.
“My vision has always been to use tourism to promote peace, security and social harmony and, if I am appointed, I hope to be able to steer tourism development towards climate change adaptation and mitigation, and ultimately reduce poverty among communities,” concluded Mzembi.
Tourism remains one of Africa’s most important strategic sectors, both in terms of employment, foreign exchange revenues as well as opening up the continent and its opportunities to the world.