ZIMBABWEAN President Robert Mugabe has called for the promotion of intra-African travel to boost tourism numbers on the continent in general and in Zimbabwe and Zambia in particular. Mr Mugabe said connectivity of African cities and attractions augurs well for growing Africa’s shares as it serves to integrate the African tourism product and its marketing promotion which makes it more attractive to the long-haul traveller.
In his keynote speech during the official opening of the 20th session of the United Nations World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO) general assembly here on Sunday night, Mr Mugabe said there is need for open borders through regional block visa regimes which will allow easier travel among Southern African Development Community (SADC) citizens. “It is very critical that Africa evolves strategies that effectively lure tourists to the continent. The type of seamless border between Livingstone and Victoria Falls Town that has been put in place for purposes of this conference should become the rule and not the exception, for all adjacent touristic border communities throughout SADC and ultimately Africa,” he said. Mr Mugabe said Africa can only benefit from increasingly behaving like a single common market, adding that it was his dream for a United States of Africa to become a reality one day. “Events like this one, constructed and positioned as ‘a uniquely African general assembly’ may be small but critical in the realisation of an integrated economic-political entity called AFRICA,” he said. Mr Mugabe said the UNWTO’s decision to hold the general assembly in southern Africa has inspired Zimbabwe in continuous efforts to maintain friendly relations with the whole international community, and even with countries he said Zimbabwe may not agree with on all matters. He said the selection of Zimbabwe and Zambia as the venue from other equally strong candidates will strengthen their determination to leverage tourism for the economic well-being and advancement of people from host countries and African as a whole. “We are very inspired by the endorsement of our two countries as worthy hosts of such a meeting and the recognition of this destination as one that is safe and secure for the world’s tourists,” he said. Mr Mugabe said the signing in the Golden Book of Tourism with President Sata, making them ambassadors for global tourism was significant as it was their commitment to the advancement of tourism.