President Mugabe yesterday called for the promotion of domestic tourism, saying many Zimbabweans lack knowledge on the many historical treasures and monuments abound in the country. He said the Ministry of
Tourism and Hospitality Industry should come up with deliberate programmes to encourage locals to visit places of interest. President Mugabe was speaking at a conferment ceremony to Zimbabwe of the 2014 Best Tourism Award and the World’s Most Preferred Cultural Destination by the European Council on Tourism and Trade at the Harare International Conference Centre.
President Mugabe received the 2014 Best Tourism Award, while and Sport, Arts and Culture Minister Andrew Langa received the World’s Most Preferred Cultural Destination Award from ECTT president Professor Anton Caragea.
Tourism and Hospitality Industry Minister Walter Mzembi received a personal medal of honour as an academician of the European Tourism Academy for his contribution to tourism growth in Zimbabwe. “Indeed, countrymen, the winning of this award should be a wake-up call to all of us to realise the many historical treasures that we own,” said President Mugabe. “I wonder how many of us are aware of the many historical treasures that we own? How many of us are aware that our Ziwa National Monuments in Manicaland date back to the Stone Age period?
“Whilst all these natural and cultural sights, a number of which are now among Unesco Human Heritage Sights, can and should be leveraged to attract visitors to Zimbabwe, I believe it is equally important for our own people, both adults and children to know and visit these sights.”
The Head of State and Government and Commander-in-Chief of the Zimbabwe Defence Forces said it was time a “Know Your Zimbabwe” campaign was launched. “There are times when I tend to think that Zimbabweans do not really know their country and its intrinsic value and worth, besides, of course, its mineral endowments, such as a gold and diamonds, which everyone know about,” he said.
“Perhaps the Ministry of Tourism and Hospitality (Industry) should launch a “Know-your-Zimbabwe” campaign to facilitate visits to and knowledge of our country’s notable sights.” President Mugabe commended Minister Mzembi for his efforts to promote tourism and Zimbabwe’s image abroad, saying he was one of his best performing ministers. He said Zimbabweans should be aware and be proud of their history and emphasised the need to record the country’s fight against colonial rule.
“Most people commemorate their major historical wars, going back for centuries,” said President Mugabe. “Our war of liberation was only yesterday, comparatively speaking. We should not risk erasing from our memories, but should instead preserve our proud history.
“We won a great war which often pitted poorly armed shoeless peasants against experienced well-armed and ruthless mercenaries. But we won it against all odds. It was a people’s war not just a Zanu, Zapu, Zanla, Zipra war, no. Those were fronts of the people of Zimbabwe in their diversity.
“We need to enshrine all locations of major battles and grow them into iconic attractions that our visitors and our posterity will visit and value of all time.” President Mugabe said the enshrinement of such monuments would stand as a sign of Zimbabwe’s struggle for independence and inspire future generations to resist imperialists’ machinations.
He thanked the ECTT for its decision to confer Zimbabwe with the awards. “I am greatly enthused and appreciative of the decision by the ECTT to give this award to Zimbabwe,” said President Mugabe. “We thank you for your magnanimity and I say magnanimity because during this time when others are thinking of punishing us more, you are thinking of making us more of friends than enemies, we thank you.
“We are exuding with friendship and love for others who equally maybe exuding with friendship and love to us. It is that interaction of love, love of nations, love of people that we in Zimbabwe would want to work for.”
Farirai Machivenyika Senior Reporter