His Excellency Ambassador Humphrey Chilu Chibanda Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the Republic of Zambia to France has presented Letters of Credence to the UN World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) Secretary General, Dr. Taleb Rifai, as Permanent Representative to the United Nations specialized agency for tourism. This makes Ambassador Chibanda the First Zambian Permanent Representative to the UNWTO and one of the first official diplomats from UNWTO member states to officially hand in Letters of Credentials to the Secretary General since a new Headquarters Agreement was signed between Spain and the World Tourism Organization on June 25, 2015. This change in text has presented UNWTO member states an opportunity to appoint ambassadors and permanent representatives to the organization.
On June 25, 2015 a new Headquarters Agreement was signed between Spain and the World Tourism Organization. This new text has replaced the 1975 Headquarters Convention, along with its supplementary agreements, and fully takes into account the UNWTO’s status as a specialized agency of the United Nations. In keeping with the prevailing practice within the United Nations system, the Agreement provides for the possibility for Member States to establish Permanent Missions and to appoint Permanent Representatives to the UNWTO as provided for in the new text of the Agreement under Articles 25, 26 and 27.
In presenting his credentials, Ambassador Chibanda conveyed special greetings from His Excellency Mr. Edgar Chagwa Lungu President of the Republic of Zambia, cordial greetings from the Minister of Tourism and Arts, Hon. Jean Kapata MP, and indeed greetings from the people of Zambia. The Ambassador went on to stress the important of the tourism and arts sector in the economic development agenda.
Ambassador Chibanda informed the Secretary General that the government of Zambia has for the past five years embarked on economic diversification to move away from the dependence on copper, and that in the diversification program tourism is one of the sectors that the government has identified to be key. Therefore, the government has resolved to transform the tourism arts sector into a viable and sustainable industry capable of significantly contributing to the national GD, job creation, and above all poverty reduction.
Ambassador Chibanda assured Dr. Rifai that Zambia shall continue to remain a committed member of the UNWTO and that the country shall continue making meaningful contributions to the objectives of the organization as an ordinary member state as well as a member of the Executive Council. He also assured the Secretary General that Zambia shall continue to adhere to the UNWTO Global Code of Ethics for Tourism in the development of the sector in the country.
In receiving Ambassador Chibanda’s credentials, UNWTO Secretary General recognized the fact that the effectiveness of permanent missions and representatives in strengthening ties and coordination between an international organization and its member states cannot be overstated. The UNWTO chief stated that tourism development has the potential to profoundly energize relations between the UNWTO and its Member States.
Furthermore, Dr. Rifai said Zambia has a special place in his heart personally and that the UNWTO secretariat and the entire membership shall never forget the 2013 General Assembly co-hosted by Zambia and Zimbabwe which he described as unique and the best in the history of the organization’s General Assemblies. The UNWTO Chief reiterated his organization’s commitment to helping member states in the development of sustainable tourism.
Ambassador Chibanda thanked the Secretary General for his unwavering support that he and his team have been giving to Zambia and indeed the whole Africa region. He specifically thanked the Secretary General for the technical support UNWTO has been rendering to Zambia through the ST-EP Projects. Further, he thanked the Secretary General for the approval by the UNWTO Themis Foundation to grant the Hotel and Tourism Training Institute Trust (HTTI) the TedQual Certification, making it the second African institution after Utalii College in Kenya to have such a certification. Ambassador Chibanda said the certification of courses offered at HTTI will surely contribute to the international recognition of the qualification obtained by graduates from this institute.