Tourism and Arts Minister Charles Banda is today expected to co-chair the 105th United Nationals World Tourism (UNWTO) Executive Council meeting.
The minister is in Madrid Spain in an effort to contribute to efforts being made towards increasing numbers of international tourist arrivals to Zambia and achieves the vision of making Zambia to be among the top five destination of choice in Africa by 2030.
Yesterday, Honourable Banda met with 26 key selected Spanish tour operators at a working tourism forum organised by the Zambian Mission in Paris working in collaboration with the Madrid Chamber of Commerce.
During the meeting Honourable Banda called on the tour operators to consider Zambia as one of the destination of choice for their outbound Spanish tourists.
He said, Zambia considers Spain as one of the international tourist source market with tremendous potential.
Minister Banda, informed the forum participants that at policy level, the government of Zambia under President Edgar Chagwa Lungu has embarked on a transformative approach to governance which has resulted in the tourism sector being recognised as an economic sector from a social one.
Honorable Banda said this meant that the government strongly considers tourism as a vehicle for economic diversification and wealth creation for all.
And Banda said, government is implementing a new and forward-looking tourism policy and is also in the process of crafting a national tourism development master plan, which will be used as tools for achieving the Ministry’s 2030 vision.
In its attempts to achieve the vision, government will pay attention to careful planning and implementation of its tourism development programmes in all destinations around the country, with a view to meet the demands of both the local and international tourists.
And Zambia’s Ambassador to France also accredited to Spain, Ambassador Humphrey Chilu Chibanda said, the Mission is working hard to compliment governments efforts in marketing Zambia’s tourism potential to increase international tourist arrivals, which will in turn contribute to foreign earnings that will eventually contribute to economic development and poverty alleviation.
Ambassador Chibanda said the ongoing forum in Madrid with key Spanish tour operators facilitated by the Mission was one of the contributions towards such a focus strategy.
At the event, the Mission made a presentation on Zambia’s offing, which was well received and appreciated by the participating operators. However, the operators called on the Minister to increase marketing activities in Spain and make available tourism materials in Spanish to build on the momentum.
The operators, informed the Minister that, the reason why Zambia does not receive good number of tourist visitors from Spain is because there is little or no market activities been made in Spain to make known to potential Spanish tourists what Zambia has to offer in terms of tourism.
Meanwhile the operators called on the Minister and the Ambassador to consider engaging the Spanish Airline Iberia so that they can consider opening flights into Zambia.
After listening to the presentation and watching a video, the operators said, they were convinced Zambia had a lot to offer in terms of tourism and would compete favourably among the destinations on the African continent.
And Honourable Banda who is in Madrid Spain to co-chair the UNWTO 105th Executive Council Session yesterday held high-level meetings with the UNWTO Secretariat at the Organisation’s Headquarters in Madrid Spain
The Minister who is accompanied by the Permanent Secretary Dr. Liya Nawa Mutale, Zambia’s Permanent Representative to the UNWTO H.E Ambassador Humphrey Chilu Chibanda and the Director for Tourism Mr. Reuben Zulu was received at the UNWTO Building located on Capitan Hay 42 in Madrid Spain by UNWTO Secretary General Dr Taleb Rifai.
Minister Banda who is also the First Vice Chair of the UNWTO Executive Council was given insights into the operations of the UNWTO Secretariat through various presentations made by different Directors from various departments of the Secretariat. This high-level meeting and visit to the United Nations agency for tourism was aimed at familiarizing the Minister with the operations of the UNWTO and identify areas of closer collaboration with the organisation.
In his welcoming remarks UNWTO Secretary-General, Dr Taleb Rifai thanked the Hon. Minister for taking time to visit the Secretariat and familiarize himself with the operations of the organisation, “Minister, you are welcome to the UNWTO Secretariat, this is your organisation and if there is anything we can do to serve you better please feel free to let us know” Said Mr. Rifai.
In response Minister Banda said he was happy to be met with the Secretariat and appreciated the insights he had received from various presentations made to him and his delegation.
The Minister’s delegation and the Secretariat further discussed the possibility of holding an event in Zambia to commemorate the declaration of 2017 as the International Year for Sustainable Tourism for Development.
And as the Minister’s is expected to co-chair the 105th Executive Council Session which member states may considerto be one of the most crucial sessions as they elect the next Secretary General to replace Dr. Taleb Rifai whose term of office comes to an end on 31st December 2017.
This session has attracted more than 400 UNWTO member states and Affiliate members. A number the Secretariat says has never been witnessed in the history of the UNWTO Executive Council Sessions.
And Zambia’s Ambassador accredited to Spain and Permanent Representative to the UNWTO H.E Ambassador Humphrey Chilu Chibanda said, the visit to the UNWTO by the Hon. Minister is also a testimony of Zambia’s commitment remain relevant to multilateral organisations such as the UNWTO.
And the Permanent Secretary Dr. Liya Nawa Mutale said her visit to the UNWTO has provided her a great opportunity to understand the importance of Zambia’s membership to the organization. Further the permanent secretary said she now has a good understanding of the operations of the secretariat after receiving various presentations from the Directors of different departments in the organisation.
The Minister and the delegation have a tight working schedule while in Madrid that includes a meeting with Minister of Tourism of Spain to be held today 10th May 2017. This meeting is important as the two ministries will discuss a memorandum of understanding for enhanced and closer collaboration in the area of tourism.