Harare — Zimbabwe has been elected to chair Sadc’s tourism organ, the Regional Tourism Organisation of Southern Africa, in recognition of the country’s recent efforts in reviving the tourism industry.
Tourism and Hospitality Industry Minister Walter Mzembi will chair the Retosa executive board, on behalf of Zimbabwe.
The election to Retosa comes a few months after Zimbabwe was elected to the executive board of the United Nations World Tourism Organisation, where it is helping direct the course of world tourism.
The Sadc states last weekend unanimously elected Zimbabwe while Mozambique, which only got one vote, settled for the vice chair in a “gentlemen’s agreement” crafted after losing to Zimbabwe.
Mozambique had been nominated by Angola but failed to get the support of the other 14 Sadc states.
In an interview yesterday, Secretary for Tourism and Hospitality Industry Dr Sylvester Maunganidze said Zimbabwe was honoured to be given the chance to direct tourism policy, implementation and content for the region.
“Retosa is a 15-member tourism organisation which is a subsidiary of Sadc and enjoys all the benefits enjoyed by subsidiaries of Sadc.
“Retosa is run by an executive board. The board met in Blantyre, Malawi, from April 17 to 24 and Zimbabwe was elected to chair the executive board. We replaced the Democratic Republic of Congo, which had been previously chairing.
“We are happy to be in a position where we will be driving Sadc policy, marketing and developing tourism in Sadc, and we will put special effort on long-haul tourism,” said Dr Maunganidze.
Coming at a time when Zimbabwe had undergone a decade of malediction from detractors of its land reform programme, Sadc is expected to benefit from Zimbabwe’s expertise in climbing out of economic problems and crafting policies that sustain the sector even in the most difficult conditions.
Dr Maunganidze said Sadc has adopted Bafana Bafana, the South African national side, as its team for the World Cup soccer finals. This is in line with Sadc solidarity.
“As we stir tourism in Sadc, we are going to market the tourism product as one single product, outside these artificial boundaries that we now use.
“One thing that happened at the Malawi meeting was that we as Sadc adopted the South African national team as our team. We will all rally behind Bafana Bafana as a region,” Dr Maunganidze said.