Foreword by Hon Engineer Walter Mzembi, Minister of Tourism and Hospitality Industry
Welcome to Zimbabwe, our “World of Wonders”, a land so rich in cultural and natural diversity.
The country’s geography is strikingly varied, from semi-desert low lying areas to lush highlands, strewn with spectacular forests and lakes, and the most amazing range of pristine wildlife, including the “Big Five” (Lion, Elephant, Buffalo, Rhinoceros and the Leopard).
Welcome to the Inaugural Edition of “Best of Zimbabwe”. This ‘Brand Zimbabwe’ initiative comes at a time when Zimbabwe has been jointly awarded, together with neighbour, Zambia, the right to host the 20th session of the United Nations World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) General Assembly in August 2013. This grand event will be hosted in the resort area of the Victoria Falls, a World Heritage site shared between the two countries.
From a Zimbabwean perspective, this will be a legacy event, re-affirming and celebrating Brand Zimbabwe: our People, our Arts, Culture, and Heritage, and the massive potential of our Tourism. It will be an opportunity to boldly applaud our balanced system of Governance that has guaranteed national peace and security since independence, as well as an opportunity to refine our Investment, Trade and Immigration regimes. The event will also offer us a platform from which to flaunt our potential for Exports to the rest of the world.
Our People are clearly our greatest asset; highly industrious, diverse in culture and sub-cultures, but all strongly unified by the deeply humanistic philosophy of unhu/ ubuntu. Our high literacy rate, which at 90%, is one of the highest in the world, is a reflection of our admirable national personality. Though history has placed a huge section of our population in foreign lands, their dignity and industriousness has continued to make them a distinct group in their different host countries.
The “Best of Zimbabwe” seeks to refresh our memories of Zimbabwe’s longstanding high-value qualities, as well as of our recorded history, which dates back to the 15th century. Rich in Arts, Culture and Heritage, the country’s contemporary history culminated in the people’s armed struggle that emancipated the nation from colonial bondage.
Since Independence in 1980 the country has produced internationally renowned artists in various genres; personalities like Oliver Mtukudzi have excelled in music, Dominic Benhura in stone sculpture and Charles Mungoshi in Literature.
On the physical side our endowments include no less than five UNESCO World Heritage Sites: the Great Zimbabwe Monuments, Khami Ruins, Mana Pools National Park, Matopo National Park and the Victoria Falls National Park. Most outstanding is our Jerusarema-Mbende dance, a UNESCO intangible human endowment heritage.
In a continent, and indeed world, some of whose parts have stubbornly remained unstable, through various forms of terrorism, internecine wars and other socio-political malaise, Zimbabwe’s Governance system has helped ensure that the country and the region remains an oasis of peace and security. This is so even in the face of that system’s own short-comings, real and imagined.
The planned UNWTO General Assembly will give the country an unparalleled opportunity to refine its Investment, Trade and Immigration regimes, as the world’s gaze is fixed on it, before, during, and after the event. Our starting point, as we prepare for this world ministerial summit, is the fact that the current global economic meltdown, led by the recession characterising the industrialised west, combined with the massive natural resources still to be exploited on the continent, present Zimbabwe and Africa almost unlimited opportunities attract investment, increase trade and attract immigration.
Provided Africa evolves the right social and economic policies as we progress into the second millennium, its countries, including our beloved Zimbabwe, should see its Exports to the world grow exponentially, even ahead of the current leading Chinese global exports! The fact is Zimbabwe and Africa are greatly endowed with a more diverse range of natural resources than Asia!
Lastly, but not by any means least important to Zimbabwe, is the fact that it is Tourism that offers the most readily available and most appropriate tool to grow the national economy in the shortest possible time.
The sector has great capacity to streamline the generality of the population into the national economy, whilst it strengthens people’s own national resolve and pride across all sections of society, including the henceforth less privileged groups like the women and the youth. This fact has not been lost to us, the sector’s current leaders; hence our rapid international re-engagement drive which has led to the forthcoming hosting of the world’s most important tourism event in 2013, the 20th Session of the UNWTO General Assembly set for the Victoria Falls in August 2013!
Zimbabwe is the current President of the Africa Travel Association (ATA), the largest continental body promoting American travel into Africa and travel amongst African countries. According to World Travel and Tourism Council (WTTC) figures, Zimbabwe has the second fastest growing tourism economy (by GDP contribution), second only to China. Within Zimbabwe itself the sector is now second only to mining in terms of contribution to the Zimbabwean economy. Best of Zimbabwe caps it all as a source of information on why you should visit Zimbabwe.
GOD BLESS ZIMBABWE,
GOD BLESS AFRICA.