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UNWTO general assembly has raised Zambia’s profile – Kapata

KAPATA

CARISTO CHITAMFYA, Medellin, Colombia
MINISTER of Tourism and Arts Jean Kapata says Zambia’s hosting of the UNWTO general assembly in 2013 has raised the country’s tourism sector profile.
Addressing delegates at the official opening ceremony of the 21st Session of the UNWTO General Assembly in Medellin, Colombia last night, the minister said tourism is now a key lever of economic diversification and deeper regional integration.
She said that the UNIVISA pilot project, initiated by Zambia and Zimbabwe soon after the 2013 General Assembly, has generated increased tourist arrivals to the Victoria Falls and has enhanced bilateral cooperation between Zambia and Zimbabwe.
Ms Kapata , however, noted that many tourist destinations around the world continued to face numerous challenges related to visa facilitation, air connectivity, security threats caused by instability and terrorism, disease outbreaks such as Ebola while massive taxation of the tourism sector (in some countries) continue to affect destination competitiveness.
She called upon all member countries to create a conducive environment that will facilitate steady growth of the tourism sector.
The minister further called for effective participation by all member countries attending the Medellin General Assembly as their respective nations are expecting tangible results from the deliberations.
Ms Kapata said if well harnessed, tourism has the potential to contribute significantly to economic growth, community development and job creation in addition to consolidating partnerships among Governments, private sector and civil society.
She thanked Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos and the people of that country for the warm welcome and the genuine hospitality of the Colombian people.
The minister said Zambia is particularly delighted because Colombia’s bid to host the 2015 General Assembly was won on Zambian soil.
This is the second time that Colombia is hosting the tourism indaba, having hosted it earlier in 2007 in the city of Cartagena.
Zambia was on Saturday elected to the Executive Council of the UNWTO amid waves of joy and jubilation as this paves the way for the country to have direct representation on the world body and add its voice to the policy direction of the tourism industry.
The Zambian delegation is headed by Ms Kapata and includes permanent secretary Stephen Mwansa, director of tourism Albert Mushanga, ZTB managing director Felix Chaila, Zambian ambassador to France Humphrey Chibanda and Zambia Wildlife Authority manager commercial services Austin Mwakifwamba.
The 21st edition of the UNWTO General Assembly runs from 12 to 17th September in the Colombian city of Medellin.
Zambia and Zimbabwe co-hosted the 20th edition of the tourism showpiece in 2013 at the Victoria Falls.

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