HARARE – Tourism minister Walter Mzembi has dismissed any hopes and thoughts of legalising prostitution ahead of the United Nations World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO) conference.
Mzembi told the Daily News that there was no way they would legalise prostitution as it goes against religious and national values. “We are a Christian nation, we are guided by Christian ethics and they do not allow such practices. Our own cultural values and ideologies do not accommodate that at all. I am not saying it’s not there, that people are not practising it but we will not legalise it.
Mzembi went on to add, “In fact, each delegate has been given a provision to bring along a spouse or partner and there are activities lined up for them. The spouse/partner team will be led by my wife Barbara who will entertain them and promote tourism, moving around with them during the course of the conference. I am actually seeing Victoria Falls as a family destination and my future plans if I am retained is to modernise the tourist destination. I will not mess around with the natural heritage.”
“We have identified an area (1 200 hectares) which we can turn into a modern destination. It will be a co-heritage of the Victoria Falls; we are looking at near the airport and outside the environs of the natural place. We intend on building convention centres; we are coming up with an activity menu that will involve the youth,” he said.
The minister said they wanted to build a strong economy from the popular tourist destination. “It will be just like what they have done at the Niagra Falls — this is not something from the textbook but it’s something we have been looking at. I have been looking at the destination’s rivals and they are doing well in terms of revenue generation.
The Niagra Falls generates about $30 billion per year, while the Victoria Falls generates about $1,5 billion, both economies combined,” he said.
Following the recent harmonised elections, Mzembi admitted that things have improved significantly from bookings to everything else. “We have been overwhelmed by the reactions following the elections. Many countries confirmed their attendance following the passing of the elections and for us this is a vote of confidence from the world to show that the elections have been endorsed.”
“We however appeal to our own private sector that are holding on to rooms to give way to the visitors because we are experiencing a challenge there, the rooms are not enough.” He added that measures had been put in place to make sure that the delegates are connected with the outside world through accessible Internet services.
The conference will run from August 24-29. More than 1 200 delegates, among them ministers of tourism from 186 countries, captains of the tourism industry, tourist wholesalers and stakeholders will be present.
The UNWTO membership includes 161 nations and more than 300 affiliate members representing the private sector, educational institutions, tourism associations and local tourism authorities.
The Zimbabwe Tourism Authority, ZTA will host a Tourism Night to welcome visitors and musicians billed to perform on 24 August include Alick Macheso, Winky D, Jah Prayzah, Mokoomba, Mbira Dzenharira, Sandra Ndebele, Suluman Chimbetu and Victoria Falls-based band Chicken Bus.
The musical will take place at Victoria Falls Primary School where musicians that composed the UNWTO theme song will have a chance to perform it.