George Maponga Masvingo Bureau
DELEGATES from several African and European countries who were attending the just-ended UNWTO general assembly indaba co-hosted by Zimbabwe and Zambia yesterday toured the Great Zimbabwe monuments, a world heritage site, in a development expected to further market the country as a prime tourist destination.
The visit to the monuments by 55 delegates — including Zimbabweans — was the second such visit by UNWTO delegates after the initial visit by another delegation last Sunday.
The director of domestic tourism in the Ministry of Tourism and Hospitality Industry Mr Irvine Murombedzi, who accompanied the delegates, said those who visited the monuments were carefully chosen based on Zimbabwe’s future tourism development plans.
He said the delegates were chosen from 10 countries including Russia, Spain, Turkey, Ghana, Kenya and Zambia in view of the potential growth of the tourism market in these countries.
“We are on our second visit to the Great Zimbabwe monuments with delegates who were attending the UNWTO general assembly but of course the group that is here today (yesterday) has new people who were carefully chosen based on their country of origin,” said Mr Murombedzi.
“We chose delegates from countries such as Russia, Spain, Turkey, and African countries such as Ghana, Kenya, Zambia and others because we feel besides sharing experiences on how we can develop our tourism, some of these countries fit into the frame of our target market for our tourism development thrust.”
The visit by the UNWTO delegates to the Great Zimbabwe, said Mr Murombedzi, was a window through which Zimbabwe could reach out to the larger tourism market in the world.
He said Government was intensifying its plans to promote domestic tourism and help the country’s tourism sector accrue immense benefits.
The UNWTO executive director Mr Marcio Favilla, who was part of the delegation that toured the Great Zimbabwe monuments, called for more training for people working in tourism to allow the growth of the tourism sector across the globe.
“I think more countries should put more emphasis on training people working in the tourism industry to keep them abreast with requisite skills needed in the tourism sector,” said Mr Favilla.
“That training will of course act as a stimulus that will spur the growth of the tourism sector across the globe,” he said.
Mr Favilla hailed the Great Zimbabwe monuments, which together with the Victoria Falls, he said, were prime tourist destinations that could be used to promote the growth of Zimbabwe’s tourism sector.