Zimbabwe’s Tourism and Hospitality Industry Minister, Doctor Walter Mzembi is in New York for bilateral meetings with various government delegations at the United Nations General Assembly. As part of his engagements, the mercurial Minister and African Union endorsed this candidate for the UNWTO Secretary General post that falls vacant in 2017, and he received further endorsements at an African Travel Association Conference at New York University yesterday.

The Corporate Council for Africa (CCA) which has since acquired the Africa Travel Association (ATA), New York University academia, and the African Union Deputy Commission Chairperson added their weight behind Dr. Walter Mzembi’s bid to land the coveted post.

Speaking at the 11th Annual Presidential Forum held annually on the sidelines of the United Nation General Assembly in New York, the President and Chief Executive Officer of CCA, Mr. Stephen Hayes said: “Dr. Mzembi has been twice President of [the]Africa Travel Association, and he is the current Chair of the UNWTO Regional Commission for Africa with the requisite leadership competences to lead the world tourism body. He is highly qualified and has demonstrated clear policy direction for global tourism. We are proud of him as a dynamic leader with a transformative agenda that will drive sustainable tourism development. Africa, as a collective, is contesting this post for the first time, and it is important that we give this Minister our full support. As CCA, we are very much behind you Walter,” Hayes said.

Corporate Council President and CEO, Stephen Hayes, endorsed Dr. Mzembi, as did African Union Commission Vice Chairperson, Dr. Erasmus Mwencha, who also added his voice by calling on the global tourism players and Members States to render their full support to Dr. Mzembi. “I am here to talk briefly about tourism but not better qualified to do so than our Minister, my brother here, Walter Mzembi whom you all heard is our African Union candidate. He is able to do it. I take him as the real-deal broker we should deploy at the UNWTO. Our dynamic candidate can connect the world to Africa’s immense tourism and investment opportunities in line with our Agenda 2063 and the Africa We Want.”

During the same event, the Director of Africa House at New York University and Professor of Economics, Yaw Nyarko, underscored that “we are fully behind you, and if I had a vote, it is yours. You are the best and right person for the job to carry forward the legacy of the incumbent.”

“We are joining the UNWTO as an Affiliate Organization, and we will support you, Dr. Walter Mzembi,” said Dr. Kristin M. Lamoureux who is an Assistant Dean of Tisch Centre for Hospitality and Tourism at the same university. The same sentiments were also echoed by the academia and student body at the university during an interactive session.

Notable among the audience were ministers of tourism and environment from Namibia, Sierra Leone, Mali, and Rwanda who participated later on in a Ministerial Roundtable. Also in attendance were members of the diplomatic corps, tour operators, think tanks, and travel writers.

On his website, Dr. Mzembi says, “My vision is for a UNWTO which is responsive to Member States’ aspirations for a global tourism that is inclusive, integrative, tolerant, responsible, empowering, equitable, sustainable, and an effective tool for public diplomacy.”

The post falls vacant in May 2017 when incumbent Dr. Taleb Rifai’s term expires. Mzembi was appointed Zimbabwe’s Tourism Minister in 2009 and found his way into the UNWTO Executive Council, which plays a critical role in developing tourism worldwide. Currently, he serves the organization as the UNWTO Regional Commission for Africa Chairperson, where he has acquitted himself very well. Since its inception in 1975, no African has contested the position of Secretary General of the UNWTO.

It is the first time the African bloc is fielding a candidate with unprecedented unanimity. The unanimity obviously is a function of this unavoidable superiority of policy direction and his clarion call to work to improve global performance of tourism and increase its market share across all the six regions. The Secretary General is the Chief Executive of the organization, and drives the agenda of global tourism.

The UNWTO is the United Nations’ agency responsible for the promotion of responsible, sustainable, and universally-accessible tourism. It promotes tourism as a driver of economic growth, inclusive development, and environmental sustainability and offers leadership and support to the sector in advancing knowledge and tourism policies worldwide.

Meanwhile, Bloomberg reports that Bloomberg Philanthropies and the U.S. Department of Commerce under President Obama’s Bloomberg Foundation/U.S. Department of Commerce’s CEO Forum, will this week also co-host the second U.S.-Africa Business Forum, a day focused on increased trade and investment between the U.S. and African nations.

The other purpose of the forum is to promote Africa’s social, economic, and political progresses, as well as to attract greater foreign direct investments. It is organized by the Africa Business Roundtable, in conjunction with Washington Media Group, Africa 24 TV, Eyes On Africa, and Invest Africa. The forum will be attended by African leaders, and Dr. Mzembi is one of the keynote speakers during the same event. The U.S.-Africa Business Forum will build on the progress of the inaugural Forum held during the 2014 U.S.-Africa Leaders’ Summit with the participation of nearly 50 heads of state or government and more than 150 global CEOs to further develop trade and business opportunities between the United States and Africa.

Dr. Mzembi, whose endorsement is gaining currency each passing day from various quotas of global tourism players, will speak at the event.