Zimbabwe Tourism Authority chief executive Karikoga Kaseke has been denied a UK visa to attend one of the world’s largest travel and tourism fair which kicks off in London tomorrow.
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The 36th edition of the World Travel Market (WTM) ends on Thursday.
Tourism and Hospitality Industry minister Walter Mzembi will lead the Zimbabwean delegation.
Responding to Kaseke’s application, the UK Home Office in Pretoria said in part: “You have applied for a Business Visit to attend the UNWTO and World Travel Market from November 3 to 6 2014. However, in light of your association, I consider it undesirable to issue you entry clearance and I am not prepared to exercise discretion in your favour.”
Kaseke was denied the right to appeal.
This is not the first time that Kaseke has been denied a UK visa.
Last year he was denied participation at the Zimbabwe international Tourism Exchange held annually in September.
Kaseke said it was strange that the European Union had lifted a travel ban on him, as has done the Australian and the US embassies.
“The UK seems to be operating on a standing divorced from the EU as they still maintain that I am on a travel ban. By virtue of being the head of tourism in the country, I am therefore the chief marketing officer of my country and it is unfortunate when I am denied participation at WTM which is arguably the world’s biggest travel show,” he said.
Kaseke said the reasons for denying him a visa were baseless and void given that the UK was the champion of human rights and freedom of association. He said the claims were political.
“In 2006 they wrote to me and at that time it was understandable, maybe because a lot of my colleagues in both government and business were denied on the same pretext of associating with Zanu PF. But most [bans] have been removed,” he said.
“It’s surprising when I’m penalised for associating with Zanu PF which is the ruling party.”
Kaseke said he would engage the British Ambassador to Zimbabwe Catriona Laing to seek clarity on the matter.
Deals brokered at last year’s WTM were worth over £2 billion.