Mugabe attacks Europe over tourism cake

President Robert Mugabe has lashed out at European countries for shortchanging Africa through their tourism sector policies.

Mugabe made the remarks when he officiated at the opening ceremony of the

20th United Nations World Tourism Organisation General Assembly in Victoria Falls yesterday.

The summit is being co-hosted by Zimbabwe and Zambia and commenced on Sunday, ending August 29.

He said Europe was putting in place punitive policy frameworks to safeguard their tourism sector at the expense of the African continent.

“It is very critical that Africa evolves strategies that effectively lure tourists to the continent. This assumes even greater importance in view of Europe’s efforts to keep the tourism dollars within the Euro-zone, by imposition of punitive airport departure taxes for its intercontinental travellers,” he said.

Mugabe said it was still disappointing to note that Africa had only four per cent share of global tourism revenue despite being richly endowed with massive natural and cultural tourism resources.

“From 1981, we remained active members of the UNWTO until 1999. Unfortunately during the period 2000 – 2008, we faced immense challenges occasioned, in large part, by illegal debilitating sanctions imposed upon us by some sections of the West.

“These sanctions sadly came hard on the heels of the IMF/World Bank’s ill-conceived Economic Structural Adjustment Programme that, amongst other negatives, disabled our active participation in bodies like the UNWTO,” he said.

However, Mugabe acknowledged that the Government of National Unity brought stability that saw the country retaining its UNWTO membership.

“The GNU led in to the somewhat softening of the stances against us on the part of our political and economic detractors,” he said.

Mugabe then called for Africa to evolve strategies that effectively lure tourists to the continent. He and his Zambian counterpart, President Michael Sata, have since signed the Golden Book of Tourism.

That makes them global tourism ambassadors, but critics question Mugabe’s credibility regarding that status.

Mugabe further backed the introduction of a Univisa for Africa, lobbying for the further opening of borders on the continent.

“The need for open borders, through regional block visa regimes, which we are trying to implement as Univisa through RETOSA, will not only allow easier travel amongst SADC citizens, But will also make it easier for the long haul intercontinental visitor and investor,” he said.

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