Mugabe has called for open borders to allow easier travel among Sadc citizens.
“It will make it easier for the long haul intercontinental visitor and investor,” Mugabe said as he officially opened the 20th session of the UNWTO general assembly in Victoria Falls last Sunday.
Mugabe said the type of seamless border between Livingstone and Victoria Falls put in place for purposes of the UNWTO “should become the rule rather than the exception for all adjacent touristic border communities throughout Sadc, and ultimately throughout Africa.
“Africa can only benefit from increasingly behaving like a single common market,” he said.
He said there was no way Africa could increase its portion of the global tourism cake without first promoting intra-Africa travel.
“Indeed connectivity of African cities, regions and attractions augurs well for growing Africa’s share, as it serves, ultimately, to integrate the African tourism product and its marketing and promotion, which in turn makes it more attractive to the long haul traveller than is the case now.”
Mugabe said it is critical that Africa evolves strategies that effectively lure tourists to the continent.
“This assumes even greater importance in view of Europe’s efforts to keep the tourism dollars within the Euro-Zone, by imposition of punitive airport departure taxes for its intercontinental travellers.”
Mugabe noted that the UNWTO has approved community-based initiatives for Zimbabwe as amplified by the assembly’s theme “Enhancing the participation of youth and women in the tourism sector”.
He said the United Nations was a vital body for all humanity.
“We are particularly happy that its specialised agencies like Unicef and UNWTO have increasingly important impact on the welfare of mankind,” he said.
Mugabe said the assembly was economically important for Zimbabwe and Zambia and the whole of Sadc.
“We expect it to leave an incredible mark on our memories and that it be part of or generational legacy, marking a clear turning point in the tourism fortunes of our two countries, our region and indeed our continent,” Mugabe said.
Turning to Zambian President Michael Sata, who jointly officially opened the UNWTO with Mugabe, he said: “Comrade President Sata, it is my fervent hope that the dream and vision of the founders of independent Africa, of a United States of Africa will be a reality one day sooner rather than later.”
Other notable guests included Taleb Rifai, secretary-general of the UNWTO and several heads of delegations.
South African jazz musician Hugh Masekela entertained the guests during the official opening ceremony.