Tourist arrivals increased by 49 percent in the first quarter of this year and this was a clear indication that Zimbabwe was a stable and peaceful destination, Tourism and Hospitality Minister Walter Mzembi said last week.
Mzembi was responding to a question in Parliament by Amos Chibaya about whether violence in the run-up to the elections would affect the United Nations World Tourism Organisation general assembly to be hosted by Zimbabwe and Zambia in August.
“I want to think that the 49% increase in tourism receipts and arrivals in the last quarter is actually testimony to the peaceful and stable nature of our destination. I pray that we carry on with the same spirit, running into elections so that we can use it.
“Should we have these elections before the General Assembly, (we must) use this unique event as a branding opportunity for the country and the global endorsement of Destination Zimbabwe. We must all collectively be inspired and be driven by that spirit.”
Mzembi said he did not see any reason why there should be violence in Zimbabwe in the run-up to the elections because Zimbabweans had found each other in the last five years.
“I think we have set some very good examples of how we have found each other as Zimbabweans in the last five years. Five years of conversation, leading to the consummation of the new Constitution and 95% ‘yes’ vote on the Referendum which is unprecedented anywhere in the world. It can only speak to a people actually locating each other and finding each other.
“Mr. Speaker, I want to share with Hon. Chibaya that one of the critical success factors for successful tourism economy is actually peace and stability and let me submit that, in the last five years, I am happy to have been presiding over a very peaceful and stable tourism destination.
“If you want to fully understand what I am talking about, I draw reference to countries in the Middle East and North Africa. They went through turbulence during the Arab Spring and North Africa rising and their tourism economies were discounted overnight because of the absence of peace and stability.”