Category Archives: News

UNWTO: South African Tourism Minister Blames St. Ange Of Seychelles For Mzembi’s Defeat

South African Tourism Minister Tokozile Xasa on Wednesday expressed dismay at African countries not supporting each other and failing to vote Zimbabwe Tourism minister Walter Mzembi secretary general of the United Nations World Tourism Organisation.

Xasa told journalists at the Tourism Indaba in Durban that she was exasperated by the lack of unity on the continent, which saw some African countries vote for European candidates.

Mzembi lost narrowly last week in Spain to Georgia’s Zurab Polilakashvilli in a tightly contested UNWTO elections for Secretary General.

The Zimbabwe Tourism minister, whom Xasa described as the most senior and most experienced minister in the world, led the first round 11 to Georgia’s eight, but eventually lost in the second round after getting 15 votes, three short of his rival’s 18.

There are 33 member states in the UNWTO executive council, which constitute the electoral college, of which 10 are from Africa, Europe 10, Middle East three, South Asia two, Americas five and East Asia three.

Xasa accused Seychelles, which withdrew its candidate, Alain St. Ange just before the race for causing the confusion which contributed to Mzembi’s loss.

“But the unfortunate part is that of the five candidates, there was a second candidate from Africa. Which means the vote from Africa was divided into two,” she said.

In addition, Xasa said other Africa countries supported European candidates when the two already split the votes.
“I am trying to demonstrate something here. We won first round with flying colours. We got 11 and I can tell you that 11 was not constituted by the African countries,” she said.

“That I can tell you straight up, Minister Mzembi was number one with 11 votes and second candidate had eight, third seven and fourth three. I am not counting the fifth because just a day before the election, the second candidate had to be withdrawn by his country, Seychelles, as it had at first supported him. The damage had already been done.

Xasa added that: “The third aspect was technically when a person is given a space to withdraw in an executive council and yet he is not an executive member of the council. It hit so hard on Africa and the African Union. Do you think people will take us seriously? After that they didn’t.

“We won round one. The only black person was him and the rest were white. I am not trying to be racist but that is how the industry is transformed. And how Africa is perceived, it is either through us or through what we do or on colour lines. He was the only one. He had beaten all of them first round.

Xasa said if Africa had been united Mzembi would have won the elections.

“I am convinced that had we been more united we would have taken it. Sitting here I am convinced that we could have taken that because he is the longest serving minister of tourism that we have in the world. He has been serving in the executive council of the UNWTO. He has accumulated a lot of experience hence he is chairing the commission for Africa, which is the continental arm of that world tourism body,” she said.

Xasa alluded to racism playing a part at the elections at the United Nations organ.

Since its inception in 1975, it has not been run by an Africa and the continent had hoped to make history through Mzembi.

“What is being picked is just the country he comes from and gets supported for that,” Xasa said.

“Come second round we had just lumped all of them against us. We lost by three votes only. I think we tested them big time. So the current person who succeeded comes from a very small country called Georgia. He is only an ambassador of Georgia in Spain. He has not even been at the realm of tourism.”

By Faith Zaba in Durban

Safety Concerns: EU Bars Medview, Other From Flying Into Europe

Barely few weeks that Medview Airlines announced its readiness to commence flight operations to West and Central Africa, as well as to Dubai, the European Commission has barred Nigeria’s flag carrier airline, from operating into European airspace for safety reasons.

A total of 181 airlines were barred from flying into Europe. 174 airlines were barred due to safety oversight by aviation authorities in their home countries.

All carriers from Mozambique and Republic of Benin have been removed from the list of airlines banned.

Medview was one of seven airlines barred due to safety conditions with the airlines and its yet to issue an official statement concerning the ban, but a Director in the airline, Alhaji Ishaq Na’ Allah said that the UK Civil Aviation requested the airline stop flying its B767 and has advised it to lease another aircraft.

He said they are working to resolve the issue while the UK authorities are due in Nigeria to carry out safety audit on the airline.

He did not however disclose when the airline would be back in service to London.

The airline, being one of the two flag carriers of Nigeria, was “Listed by Introduction” on the Nigerian Stock Exchange [NSE] on January 31, 2017, and was the first airline to list its shares on the stock exchange in the last 10 years.

This development is a pointer to the fact that all the private operators in Nigeria lack the capacity to serve 180 million Nigerians; hence the call for a national carrier.

Garbage On Streets Of Calabar Ruins The Experience Of Visitors – Netherland Diplomat

…no development aide to Nigeria from Netherlands

The first secretary of the kingdom of Netherlands to Nigeria, Tessel Kuijten visiting Calabar, Cross River’s capital for the first time from Lagos said the garbage on the street was capable of ruining the experience of every visitor to Nigeria.

The first secretary of the kingdom Netherlands’ economic affairs to Nigeria stated this in an interview with newsmen while attending Cuso International Youth Leadership, Entrepreneurship, Access and Development [YouLead] programme in Calabar on Wednesday.

Georgia Zurab, Emerged New UNWTO Secretary General

Georgian Zurab Pololikashvili has emerged as the new United Nations World Tourism Organisation [UNWTO], Secretary General, following his victory at the 105th Executive Meeting/Election for a successor to Taleb Rafai whose tenure ends in December 2017 held between May 11 -12, 2017 in Madrid, Spain.

Before the election proper, the meeting focused on current trends and challenges facing the tourism sector and on the three priorities of the Organization – safe, secure and seamless travel; the impact of technology in the tourism sector and sustainability.

The Executive Council, attended by some 250 representatives from 59 countries, focused on these priorities as well as on the UNWTO programme of work for 2018-2019 and the agenda of the International Year of Sustainable Tourism for Development 2017.

The 105th session of the UNWTO Executive Council also recommended Zurab Pololikashvili, from Georgia, as the nominee for the post of Secretary General for the four-year-period starting January 2018.

Zurab beat Zimbabwe’s Walter Mzambi who was African Union [AU] endorsed candidate in the second with just three votes and would be presented to the 22nd UNWTO General Assembly for ratification come September 11-16, 2017, Chengu, China.

“We predict that 1.8 billion international tourists will travel across borders by 2030. We must ensure that such growth goes hand-in-hand with sustainability. We must embrace the opportunities created by innovation and new technologies.

We must continue to make travel safer, but also more seamless and accessible for all. And we must ensure that our sector serves the planet as well as its people” said UNWTO Secretary-General, Taleb Rifai, opening the meeting.

“UNWTO is a privileged forum where all countries discuss the main challenges facing our sector, share experiences and build common solutions. Tourism is about building bridges” said the Secretary of State of Tourism of Spain, Matilde Asian.

The Chair of the Council, the Minister of Culture and Tourism of Azerbaijan, Abulfas Garayev, recalled the importance of the declaration by the United Nations General Assembly of 2017 as the International Year of Sustainable Tourism for Development “This is a unique opportunity to raise awareness of the contribution of sustainable tourism to development among public and private sector decision makers and the public, while mobilizing all stakeholders to work together in making tourism a catalyst for positive change”, he said.

The 106th and 107th sessions of the UNWTO Executive Council will take place in September 2017 in Chengdu, China in the framework of the 22nd UNWTO General Assembly.

UNWTO Election, Vote Africa, Not Zimbabwe Mzembi For The Sake Of The Continent’s Tourism – Lucky

There was an atmosphere of excitement yesterday, when broke the news that Seychelles made last minutes endorsement of Zimbabwean Walter Mzembi as Africa’s sole candidates for the coming UNWTO Secretary General election and the immediate withdrawal of the candidacy of Seychelles former Minister of Tourism Alain St.Ange from the race.

It might have come late, but it was however welcomed and highly appreciated that Africa is working as team.

Whilst the gesture is being celebrated three days before the election, can report authoritatively that the chance of Africa clinching or winning becomes slimmer by the day.

Sources that contacted this publication asserted that a European backed candidate will win because the travel and tourism industry at this moment is too important and cannot be left in the hands people or candidate that will not get the supports of big players around the world when it comes to major global matters.

According to eturbonews, the Seychelles President, Danny Faure was reported to have chaired an Extra-Ordinary Cabinet meeting at which the Seychelles Cabinet considered a formal request from the African Union Commission for Seychelles to withdraw the candidature of Alain St Ange for the election to the post of Secretary-General of the United Nations World Tourism Organisation.

“Having considered the stance taken by Seychelles at the Southern African Development Community [SADC] meeting in March 2016, and at the African Union [AU] meeting of July 2016, where member states, including Seychelles, had unanimously voted to support the Zimbabwean candidate, Cabinet members formally reviewed its decision to support the candidature of St Ange”.

The president was also quoted to have said, “This is in line with established practices governing the endorsement process for candidatures within the international system under the AU and SADC frameworks”.

“St Ange’s capacity to lead the UNWTO is unquestionable, as is his vast experience in the field of tourism. However, in light of our standing responsibilities and commitments within the context of the African Union, the Seychelles Government has decided to withdraw the candidature of St Ange for the position of Secretary General” he said.

Without doubt, Mzembi is the doyen of African tourism minister and is young.
He has done much to rekindle the spirit, visibility, and performance of Zimbabwe Tourism: as well as raising the profile and collaborative engagement of African nations through his longstanding chairmanship of the UNWTO Commission for Africa according to Geoffrey Lipman, a former Assistant Secretary General of the UNWTO.

Lipman stated forward that Mzembi’s plans for UNWTO are well thought through, bold, visionary, and yet at the same time soundly grounded in the organization’s structural reality.

Come Friday 12th of May 2017 in Madrid, Spain, Walter Mzembi will face the likes of Marcio Favilla, a committed Tourism leader, having served his country as Deputy Minister of Tourism and then as an Executive Director at UNWTO.

He has also been largely reported to be a good man who understands the opportunities and challenges facing the organization in increasingly uncertain times.

An insider but with significant outside experience and has been in the leadership of the organization for many years and he’s considered a safe pair of hands.

Another big obstacle for Mzembi is the the Dho/Vogeler ticket, something that is new for the organization – where two people have teamed up to complement their individual strength and challenges as candidates.

It is an anomaly. In the case of Carlos Vogeler he simply was unable to get the essential support of his government to run for the top job, and he covers the same region as Marcio Favilla. And the lead candidate Ambassador Young Shim Dho didn’t have the international political support needed to mount a powerful campaign.

The program they advocate is as expected preserving the good elements of the existing regime with a solid future focus – highly organized, designed and professionally presented.

“There are however, positive and negative issues in the concept of a ticket rather than an individual – moral and legal, the age, experience, compatibility, and balance of the candidates. Then there is the complex issue of the place of the flagship ST-EP program – now with a new Korean based International Organization to manage it”, noted Lipman.

Besides the aforementioned, Ambassador Zurab Pololikashvili has run a formidable political leadership campaign using European solidarity and the proactive engagement of his Head of State to advance his candidature.

His program of reform and stability is on the surface the kind of change the organization expects and needs. He targets the right internal / external realities as the other candidates and his “global” focus is an important recognition of increasing community influence on tourism’s future.

Ambassador Jaime Alberto Cabal the Colombian Ambassador to Austria, who identifies his President and country as a driving force behind his candidacy and Latin America as the base.

Since 2008, Mzembi has been involved in the industry and not much sincerely has changed or much value added to the Africa’s travel and tourism industry according many strategists and analysts.

He has done well for his country Zimbabwe, but not the continent they argued.

This writer in particular consulted for the Zimbabwe Tourism Authority [ZTA], an agency under the Ministry of Hospitality and Tourism that Mzembi heads and I can say categorically that trust is a scarce commodity in dealing with tourism administrators from that part of Africa.

Even as we support and pray that he wins come Friday, his victory does not lies in the hands of the few African tourism ministers that will be participating.

From my experience as a travel and tourism journalist that knows the history of the UNWTO and has also written extensively about it, Mzembi chances remains slim and doubting.

Wait till Friday, less than 20 African countries will be represented and everything will come down to figure.

My prayer is that, the rest of the world’s tourism fraternity will understand that Africa was instrumental to gradual transformation of International Union of Official Travel Organisation [IUOTO] to World Tourism Organisation [WTO] and now to UNWTO.

No African has headed the organisation and I must confessed that UNWTO has not added any value to Africa and its presence has been limited to its leadership visiting and meeting presidents and minsters for photo opportunities alone.

Africa needs a UNWTO Secretary General that would recognise training of the continent’s tourism administrators, travel and tourism journalists and introduction of country representative to member nations like all other United Nations agencies because that is the only way UNWTO will be relevant and remain relevant for years to come.