Zambia, Zimbabwe and the United Nations World Tourism Organisation efforts to host the UNWTO General Assembly in August 2013 received a boost late Tuesday after the two nations signed a trilateral agreement in Victoria Falls to co-host the event.

Zambia’s President Michael Sata and his Zimbabwean counterpart Robert Mugabe were joined by UNWTO secretary general Taleb Rifai at the ceremony.

“This event brings hope of prosperity of tourism to the people of both countries as it marks the beginning of preparations for the co-hosting of the UNWTO General Assembly. We are glad for the UNWTO for giving our two countries to host this…this attests the importance that the UNWTO attaches to developing Africa, “President Sata said during the signing ceremony at the Victoria Falls.

His Zimbabwean counter President Mugabe said the signing of the agreement to co-host the UNWTO general assembly attests the two countries’ commitment to welcome people from across the globe.

“Today actualises the promotion of border relations and we pledge to work together towards August next year. We should rejoice that this is a demonstration of the long standing relationship between the two nations,” President Mugabe said.

“We will deliver to global tourism as the two countries in a unique African experience. We are appreciating you for showing confidence in us and the challenge for us is to invest in the sectors that have positive performance. We hope your visit will inspire others to visit the Victoria Falls and we call on the world to come and visit the Victoria Falls.”

Dr Rifai said tourism was a “central phenomenon and a powerful social drive” which a GDP of nine per cent in the world.

Dr Rifai urged the two southern Africa states that Africa to in the next two decades to increase their tourist visits to a 150 million per year.

This will be the first ever General Assembly the two countries are expected to host.

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ZIMENE MUMAKONDA

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