Zimbabwe’s tourism minister Walter Mzembi said Tuesday that five teams who had qualified for the World Cup, including England and the United States, were asked to visit in the build-up to the tournament but only North Korea had accepted the request.
Mzembi said Australia and five-time World Cup winner Brazil were also approached in a bid to boost Zimbabwe’s failing tourism industry.
“Of the five countries that we are aiming to come to Zimbabwe, only North Korea have confirmed they will stay in Zimbabwe at the end of May before proceeding to South Africa for the World Cup tournament,” Mzembi said.
Mzembi did not give exact dates for the visit, but the North Korean embassy and Zimbabwe’s tourism ministry said Wednesday that the team would be in the country from May 25. No other teams have responded to Zimbabwe’s approaches.
Mzembi also said Zimbabwe, which has been plagued by political violence and severe economic problems, is hoping to attract 100,000 tourists before and after the World Cup. He called this an “achievable target” and hoped that football teams training in the country would help this objective.
North Korea, which last appeared at the World Cup in 1966, is in Group G with Brazil, Portugal and Ivory Coast. AP