ZAMBIA, Aug 29 (Bernama) — President Robert Mugabe said on Wednesday the record attendance at the United Nations World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO) general assembly was endorsement that Zimbabwe is a safe tourist destination.
Mugabe scoffed at attempts by Western countries to scuttle the tourism that Zimbabwe and Zambia successfully co-hosted, reports Zimbabwe’s news agency, New Ziana.
Some Western countries led by the United Kingdom protested at the selection of Zimbabwe as a co-host for the indaba (conference), which ran from Aug 24 to 29.
In a bid to scuttle the meeting, the Western countries sent agents to circulate rumours that bombs had been planted at the venue of the general assembly in Victoria Falls.
The general assembly, which was attended by a record breaking number of delegates, proceeded smoothly despite the threats.
Addressing delegates at the closing ceremony of the general assembly in Zambia, Mugabe said the threat had been targeted at derailing the general assembly.
“There was posted on the internet from London, that a bomb had been planted somewhere here for you to be frightened so you could disperse and then it will be said the meeting failed,” he said.
“We are not terrorists. We do not kill people here. We seek no harm to others, we seek friendship and cooperation, we seek peace and not war in Africa. We seek good neighbourliness and respect for each others territorial integrity.”
Mugabe said Zimbabwe and Zambia were peaceful countries and ideal tourist destinations as he also rubbished warnings issued by the United States against travelling to the Victoria Falls.
“Also from Washington (United States)and we are surprised, is the warning given to would be visitors to this country that visiting the Victoria Falls is dangerous. Ladies and gentlemen you are now our ambassadors to tell the truth,” he said addressing the delegates.
He said the record attendance by delegates to the general assembly was an endorsement of the Victoria Falls as a safe tourist destination.
Victoria Falls in Zimbabwe and Livingstone Zambia played host to the just ended 20th session of the United Nations World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO) general assembly.
Mugabe urged Africa to adopt new technologies which will help facilitate easier processing of tourists as well as improve destination accessibility.
“We all need to continue working together, not only as Sadc region but also as a continent under the auspices of the UNTWO to promote tourism in itself a key pillar of our economic development,” he said.
Zambian President Michael Sata said success of the general assembly had opened up new possibilities for members states to ensure that tourism contributes to development of their economies.
“The hosting of the event is historical for us and will forever remain a treasured experience,” he said.
Meanwhile, UNWTO secretary general Dr Taleb Rifai was re-appointed for a four year second term.
Zimbabwean Tourism Minister Walter Mzembi and his Zambian counterpart Sylvia Masebo described the event as a success.
Delegates were treated to various performances by Zambian and Zimbabwean artists.