ZIMBABWE and Zambia are set to assume the co-presidency of the United Nations World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO) General Assembly 20th session which kicks off on Saturday.
BY NDAMU SANDU
Zimbabwe and Zambia are co-hosts of the session which runs from August 24 to 29 in Victoria Falls and Livingstone respectively.
The co-hosts are taking over from Republic of Korea which held fort from 2011.
The co-presidency runs up to 2015 General Assembly to be hosted by either Cambodia or Colombia.
This comes as preparations for the event have reached the home stretch with parties working round the clock to fine-tune the processes leading to the hosting of a successful General Assembly.
An advanced secretariat from the UNWTO arrived on Monday and a trilateral meeting would be held today to fine-tune the programme.
“We are on track, so far so good,” Mzembi said.
The 20th session of the UNWTO would be paperless in line the United Nations system’s environmental protection policy.
The 20th session is also an elective General Assembly as it has to confirm the candidature of secretary general Taleb Rifai.
Rifai was nominated for another term by the UNWTO’s executive council’s 95th session in Belgrade, Serbia in May.
It is understood that African countries will support Rifai’s confirmation by virtue of having brought the General Assembly back to Africa. This is the second time that Africa has hosted the meeting, which is equated to the tourism World Cup. Senegal hosted the 17th session of the UNWTO in 2007.
Zimbabwe is also vying for the chairmanship of the Regional Commission for Africa (CAF).
By last month, Zimbabwe was the only country that had submitted its candidature for the chairmanship of CAF. The push for the post is designed to influence and lobby for the country’s vision in continental and international bodies.
South Africa has over the years been aggressive in lobbying for the deployment of its citizens in continental bodies and the UN family.
Zimbabwe wants to use the event to rebrand in the post election period. Tourism experts say there won’t be immediate benefits from the hosting of the UNWTO session. However, they say the benefits would accrue from the hosting of a successful meeting.
At least 65 country delegations have made bookings and registration in Victoria Falls for the UNWTO meeting.
Treasury has joined the party and has been releasing funds as down payments to service providers.
In June, Mzembi sent his begging bowl to the corporate sector saying government had little resources due to competing needs such as looking for money to hold last month’s general elections.