Africa will, for the first time in the 42-year history of the UN World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO), put forward a candidate for the post of secretary-general when Dr Walter Mzembi formally launches his candidacy next Thursday.
Zimbabwe’s Minister of Tourism and Hospitality, Dr Mzembi, will outline his vision on how he intends to lead the UNWTO to “new heights of relevance, recognition, and results” if elected at a reception event in Madrid, Spain.
The AU endorsed Dr Mzembi, who is serving as co-hairperson of the UNWTO regional commission for Africa, at the AU Summit in Kigali, Rwanda in July last year.
Dr Mzembi may face an African challenger for the position, in addition to his European and Middle East challengers, after Seychelles’ former tourism minister, Alain St Ange, declared his interest in running for the post.
However, Dr Mzembi believes he is the best candidate.
“Given the adversities that are confronting global tourism today and I list here a few, tourism and security, climate change, biodiversity terrorism, high taxation, standardisation, child sexual abuse, pandemics, and political conditions, there is no better candidate who could demonstrate how to turn adversity into an opportunity to the extent that I have done for Zimbabwe tourism .
“Now setting the agenda in global tourism with a resume of tourism positions since 2009,” he said in a widely published interview. The incumbent secretary-general, Dr Taleb Rifai, a Jordanian, has held the post for the past seven years and is due to step down at the end of 2017.
Elections for the post are to be held at the Madrid meeting in May.