President Robert Mugabe and his Zambian counterpart Michael Sata and the United Nations World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO) secretary-general Taleb Rifai yesterday signed a trilateral host agreement at Victoria Falls Bridge for the tourism organisation’s general assembly, pencilled for August next year.
The assembly will be held in Victoria Falls and Livingstone in Zambia. Mugabe and Sata also signed the Golden Book of Tourism and were given open letters by Rifai urging them to promote tourism in their respective countries. Speaking after signing the agreement, Mugabe said Zimbabwe and Zambia were ready to host the event.
“The signing of the trilateral agreement is of historical importance,” he said.
“For our people, the signing of the agreement attests to our commitment, our readiness to welcome the entire tourism fraternity to our countries. For the UN World Tourism Organisation, on the other hand, the signatures testify to the confidence and trust that was bestowed upon us.”
Mugabe said the event rubber-stamped the promotion of cross-border tourism.
“For us as ‘Siamese twins’, Zimbabwe and Zambia, the pledge is to assiduously work together towards August next year, and hence the signing ceremony confirms our readiness to work together to promote tourism primarily in our own countries while also casting the net wider to reach other tourism markets,” he said.
Mugabe said the event also demonstrated, “the long-established relationship between our countries and peoples who are bound together by a common and rich tapestry of culture, heritage and history.”
Addressing the same gathering, Sata said tourism was one of the key sectors in alleviating poverty in the two countries.
“The Zambian government strongly believes that tourism should bring tremendous socio-economic progress and a catalyst for rural development,” he said.