The Zimbabwe Tourism Authority Chief Executive offier, Karikoga Kaseke, described the congress as a precursor of the 20 th session of the United Nations World Travel Organisation General Assembly, which is going to be co-hosted with Zambia next year.
“The hosting of this prestigious congress by Zimbabwe under the theme “Africa: Partnering for the Fture” is another great stride in the right direction as we amplify efforts to consolidate the sectorial gains and spurring further growth…” Kaseke said.
Vice President Joice Mujuru is expected to officially open the conference, with five Cabinet ministers due to address the various sectors of the conference.
The last time the ATA congress was held in Zimbabwe was in 1988. It is largely seen as an opportunity to market tourism to mainly the American market, which remains the world’s biggest economy.
“We hope to interface with regional and international delegates, some of whom are potential investors, with a view to give them insight into specific investment opportunities in the tourism and hospitality sector,” said Kaseke.
ATA was formed in 1975 with the sole aim of promoting travel into Africa. It is assumed by the experts that it is critical for Zimbabwe, which has identified tourism among the four pillars of its economic recovery plan to market and promote itself as a safe and attractive destination.
Zimbabwe has made history by attracting ministers of tourism from Senegal, Gambia, Zambia, Ghana, Central Africa Republic, Cameroon, Ethiopia, Seychelles, Chad, Kenya and Namibia, among others. Diplomatic missions accredited to Zimbabwe, among them the embassies of the United States of America, Zambia, Indonesia, Pakistan, Nigeria, India and South Africa, have also confirmed participation.
Kaseke said $450 000 was spent in preparations for the congress to be a success, adding that the returns will depend on how the tourism industry responds to the opportunities.