Zimbabwe won the bid to co-host the 20th session of the UNWTO General Assembly in South Korea two years ago and Western governments, some of which are now members of the UNWTO, went on to criticise the world tourism family for the decision.
But the level of preparedness, the high level attendance and the business conducted in the first three days of the General Assembly have compelled Mr Rifai to shut the door on criticism and declare the event the best ever in the history of UNWTO since 1975 when it started.Addressing journalists as Zimbabwe and Zambia yesterday assumed the presidency of the organisation for two years, as per organisational norm that the hosting country takes over the leadership, Mr Rifai challenged those who did not agree with the decision to visit Victoria Falls during the Assembly and see for themselves."The decision was correct, we do not regret it," he said."The decision to allow Zimbabwe to co-host with Zambia was not made by one person. It was an organisational decision. It was taken by the entire General Assembly in South Korea in 2011.
"Those who chose to criticise us must go into the streets in Victoria Falls and Livingstone and experience the impact themselves."They must see those smiling faces. It was a very correct decision. "We feel it was correct and the right decision, it is worth it and by the way it is the best attended General Assembly in the history of the UNWTO. "It has been successful because there was hard work and collaboration between the two countries. "There was political will from the leadership and things have worked despite the different centres of power, services of inspiration and backgrounds. The will was there and things have worked."
Zimbabwe and Zambia have, with effect from yesterday, assumed the presidency of the UNWTO, giving them leverage to influence the affairs in the world tourism family. Tourism and Hospitality Industry Minister Walter Mzembi and his Zambian counterpart Ms Sylvia Masebo became co-presidents of the UNWTO until 2015 when the country that will win the ticket to host the General Assembly in two days' time will take over. Zimbabwe and Zambia take over from South Korea, which hosted the 19th session of the general assembly in 2011.