Innocent Ruwende, Harare Bureau
TOURISM and Hospitality Industry Minister, Dr Walter Mzembi, yesterday received a major boost in his campaign for the post of United Nations World Tourism Organisation secretary general when mobile telecommunications giant NetOne unveiled a sponsorship package to cater for his communication and publicity needs for the duration of his campaign.
Dr Mzembi is the African Union and Sadc candidate for the post which has never been occupied by an African in the history of the organisation.
Elections for the UNWTO SG are set for May 11 and 12 this year in China.
The package, unveiled under the banner of NetOne’s game-changing package, One Fusion, comprises a top of the range handset, a simcard and $500 worth of One Fusion airtime.
One Fusion is NetOne’s integrated prepaid package that incorporates bundles for on-net and off net minutes, data, SMS, WhatsApp, Facebook and Twitter as well as international minutes.
Speaking at the handover ceremony, NetOne acting board chairman Mr Peter Chingoka said the company received a letter of request for sponsorship from Government signed by Finance and Economic Development Minister Patrick Chinamasa appealing for assistance in cash or kind for Minister Mzembi’s campaign for the UNWTO post. “As support and a gesture of commitment to the national tourism agenda, NetOne will assist Dr Mzembi’s campaign with $10 000 which will go towards publicity campaigns in ZimTravel Magazine which will be published and distributed every month,” he said.
ZimTravel is Zimpapers’ premier tourism magazine.
“This publication will be armed with his manifesto and campaign messages which will also profile our country. In addition to this, NetOne being a giant in the telecommunications sector will cater for all his communication needs during the campaign period.”
In his acceptance speech, an elated Dr Mzembi thanked NetOne for supporting tourism having been one of the sponsors of the UNWTO General Assembly held in Victoria Falls in 2013.
He decried lack of funding as hindering growth in the tourism industry which has the potential of earning the country $3 billion annually.
Tourism, he said, is largely known as one of the world’s fastest growing industries and can be a major contributor to the country’s economic growth in terms foreign exchange earnings.
It also creates job opportunities in both large and small communities.
Dr Mzembi described tourism as the third largest global foreign currency earner after fuels and chemicals at $1,5 trillion.
“It is a sector that contributes 10 percent to gross domestic product globally,” he said. “It employs one in every 11 people in the world, equivalent to 288 million jobs.”
The Minister described the tourism sector as the lowest hanging fruit with ease for picking. This, he said, was the reason why a number of nations place tourism ahead of other sectors.
“You have to factor tourism to the extent that it becomes your painkiller in budgeting processes,” he said.
“Just look at how we have moved it in Zimbabwe at the time I inherited it at $200 million in February, 2009 after it had taken serious setbacks because of the many issues that were happening in the country.”
The decades leading up to 2008, said Dr Mzembi, were very acrimonious and tourism took a knock but it had now reached the $1,1 billion mark.
Dr Mzembi said all that was happening with minimal support from Treasury.
“In fact, nothing at all. Now if we were investing something into it. We will be doing at least 30 percent performance of the South African tourism economy which stands at $10 billion. We should be doing $3 billion not $1,1 billion,” he said.
“Investment does not come in the form of placing bigger parcels. You facilitate communication of the brand, opening up destinations, remove roadblocks from our streets and highways and replace them with security checkpoints.”
Since its inception in 1975, the UNWTO has been led by candidates from France, Austria, Mexico, France and Jordan in that order.
There is, however, a wide belief that it is now time for Africa as no African has held the UNWTO secretary general’s post.
Article Source: The Chronicle