The Honorable Dr Walter Mzembi, PhD, current Minister of Tourism and Hospitality Industry for the Republic of Zimbabwe since 2009, will be going to the United States to speak at the 2016 African Diaspora World Tourism Awards in Atlanta, Georgia, on August 27.
Dr. Mzembi was recently endorsed by the African Union as the choice for Africa to become the next Secretary General of the United Natoons WOrld Tourism Organization.
This is an historical visit for the United States and very significant for the ADWT-Awards event.
As Africa’s official candidate, Dr. Mzembi believes that his becoming the UNWTO Secretary General will be a win for his country Zimbabwe, as well as for Africa. Viewed by many in the world tourism industry as a unifier, eloquent, astute and visionary leader, it is no wonder that the African Union is rallying behind him. Since the inception of UNWTO in 1975, no African has ever held the position of Secretary General, and if Dr. Mzembi wins, he will be the first. Now many are believing that it is now time for Africa!
“We are beyond excited to have Dr. Mzembi set to attend and address this year’s event,” says Kitty J. Pope, founder/director and executive director of the ADWT-Awards event that also includes a cultural heritage travel expo. “The Minister’s visit is most important because this year’s award event for the first time will include the “Parade of Flags,” where embassy representatives from various countries of the African Diaspora will carry their perspective flags as a tribute to the United Nations declaration of the Decade for People of African Descent.”
Pope says that Dr. Mzembi’s visit also shows support for two other new components of the awards event which are the “Royal African Procession” where African Kings and Queens participate, and the Pan African Travel Forum to be presented by Rev. Dr. Eugene Franklin, the founder/chair of the Pan African Cultural Heritage Tourism Initiative. The Pan African Travel Forum will also be about connecting the Africa Diaspora to Africa. “Dr. Mzembi’s attendance also shows support for Africa and African Diaspora cultural heritage tourism,” says Pope. “Having Dr. Mzembi attend solidifies all of these components and concepts.” Dr. Mzembi was inducted as honoree into the Hall of Fame for the inaugural African Diaspora World Tourism Awards in Atlanta in 2013.
To date, Dr. Mzembi is the longest serving Africa tourism minister in UNWTO, currently serving as chair for the United Nation Commission on Africa. He is credited with institutionalizing tourism in the Africa Union which had long overlooked tourism as a critical factor in economic and social cohesion and development. He has also been a member of Parliament for the Masvingo South Constituency since 2004 and UNWTO’s Commission for Africa Chairperson from 2013 to date. His experience in the world of tourism includes such international positions as Chairman of the Southern Africa Development Community Committee of Tourism Ministers in 2015, UNWTO Executive Council Member from 2009 to 2013, and the UNWTO Co-President in Session 20 of the General Assembly from 2013-2015. Dr. Mzembi has also served as president of the New York-based Africa Travel Association three times.
Dr Mzembi’s journey to the candidature started with his nomination by the Government of Zimbabwe and was subsequently followed by an endorsement by the Southern Africa Development Community region and now the African Union. The Secretary General’s post falls vacant in May 2017 when incumbent Dr. Taleb Rifai’s term expires. Nominations for the post will be held in Egypt in October, upon which Dr Mzembi will officially know his opponents.