Your Excellency, the President of the Republic of Zimbabwe, and Commander of the Zimbabwe Defence Forces, Cde Robert Gabriel Mugabe;
The Vice President of the Republic of Zimbabwe, Cde Joice Mujuru;
Members of the Politburo;
All Cabinet Minister and Members of the House of Assembly and the Senate;
President of the Chiefs Council and all Chiefs here present;
Members of the Diplomatic Corps;
Ladies and Gentlemen, all protocol observed
As always, the ceremony for WORLD BEST TOURIST DESTINATION AWARD is the embodiment of an idea and the universal proclamation of a country that succeeded in materializing this idea to the fullest.
Last year we concentrated on the idea that in the world of today, tourism is a causeway uniting knowledge and friendship, peoples and countries, a way to promote peace and understanding, a road that leads towards a better future for all.
We see the recipient of the WORLD BEST TOURISM AWARD, ZIMBABWE, not only standing for the idea of a resurrection of Africa and African people, but also symbolizing Africa’s determination to undertake the long journey to global significance.
We have also noted with great satisfaction that Zimbabwe has persistently viewed tourism as one of the pillars of its economy, going forward. Your successive economic blueprints, right up to the current one, the ZIMASSET, recognize the critical value-adding role that the tourism sector can play in your economy.
Your Excellency, we are aware that in 2013 you signed the United Nations World Tourism Organization’s Golden Book of Tourism. We must congratulate and commend you highly for signing that book. Yours was the 29th signature by various world statesmen throughout the globe, who have pledged their support for global tourism, with its critical role of promoting both the economic, as well as the social wellbeing of the world. Needless to say, tourism can do a great deal of social and economic good for Africa, including Zimbabwe.
Mr. President, in our consideration for whom to give this award to, we learnt, amongst many other facts about your country, of your economic model ensuring that local communities participate and benefit from enterprises that exploit and benefit from the conservation of bio-diversity of both flora and fauna, was born here. We are here to urge you along this course, because that makes Zimbabwe a steward of the earth’s flora and fauna, in its pristine condition, for the benefit and enjoyment of all humanity including Zimbabwe’s own posterity.
Your government’s well placed recognition of tourism as an important sector is also evident in your decision to create a stand-alone Ministry of Tourism and Hospitality Industry, back in 2009.
Even more fundamental for us, is your acknowledgement that tourism is a peace sector, constantly building bridges amongst the various peoples of the world.
Your recognition of this truth is evidenced, in part, by the support you have given your Minister of Tourism to travel the world, east and west, ensuring that this bridge between your country and the rest of the world remains intact and promote real people-to-people warmth and friendship.
It is not only for these philosophical reasons that we found your country worthy of this award, the fact is your country if well-endowed with historical and cultural features of great worth and value to all humanity. These range from the massive long-standing architectural structures of Great Zimbabwe monument, and others like it all over your country, to rock paintings and artefacts that symbolize early human civilization. Zimbabwe is indeed a destination of global note and the recognition of many of your country’s features as UNESCO Human Heritage sites says as much.
We did explain in great detail in our 3rd of May Press Release that we put out for this purpose, why we found Zimbabwe a deserving recipient of these awards, but my address would be amiss if I failed to refer to the well-known hospitality and peace- loving nature of the Zimbabwean people. It is quite appropriate that you position your people as one of the Seven Wonders that characterize Zimbabwe. Zimbabweans, both at home and in the diaspora, are generally well-known for their hard-work and cheerfulness – they are a wonder indeed.
Last but not least, Your Excellency, Ladies and Gentlemen, it is not only in Zimbabwe that we have found a naturally and culturally well-endowed destination, but it is here that we find an exceptional combination of peace and security, combined with a crime-free environment and an exceptionally hospitable people. Visitors here are bound to feel welcome, safe and secure, and that is probably the reason why the United Nations World Tourism Organization decided to hold the 20th Session of its General Assembly, which turned out to be its most successful, here in Zimbabwe at the magnificent Victoria Falls.
Your Excellency Mr. President, it is my great honor and privilege to hand over this title as an international recognition for all the people of Zimbabwe, all united in the service of protecting and preserving the historical and cultural heritage of your country, leveraging tourism and culture, in the service of the people of Zimbabwe.
This title is also a challenge because we now expect your country and people to hold what you have in trust on behalf of world culture and tourism. May this award be used to enhance the international standing of the Republic of ZIMBABWE-A WORLD OF WONDERS. It is my privilege and honour Mr. President, to handover to Your Excellency, as the representative of your country and tourism, the Award for the WORLD BEST TOURIST DESTINATION FOR 2014.