Regional tourism body under threat

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DISAGREEMENTS among SADC member states are threatening the existence of a tourism body meant to promote the growth of the sector.
According to SADC’s director of infrastructure and services, Remmy Makumbe, tourism ministers from the blo will meet in a month’s time to decide the fate of the Regional Tourism Organisation of Southern Africa (Retosa).
“There has been disagreement among member states over the operations of Retosa with some agitating for its dissolution. Three ministers met in Livingstone a while ago and passed a resolution to dissolve the body,” said Makumbe.
“However there have been questions over the authenticity of the resolution hence some member states have asked for a meeting that will be held in the next month or so at which a final decision will be taken.”
Makumbe told journalists at the on-going SADC summit in Victoria Falls, Tuesday that the organisation’s secretariat torpedoed the decision of the three unnamed ministers and then resolved to convene another meeting in October or November.
He said those agitating for the dissolution of Retosa may not have an appreciation of the consequences of doing away with the tourism body.
“We will impress upon them the importance of this organisation but if member states want to dissolve the body then we will not stand in their way,” he said.
“Ours is a technical job, the problem is that we have member states with tourism attaches within their embassies in most parts of the world while some do not have because of resource constraints.
“The differences are on the cost contributions that member states are putting into Retosa but this can be ironed out.”
Retosa, Makumbe added, is a SADC “institution responsible for tourism growth and development. Its aims are to increase tourist arrivals to the region through sustainable development initiatives, improved regional competitiveness, and effective destination marketing”.
The region is endowed with abundant natural resources as well as some of the world’s best tourist destinations including Zimbabwe’s iconic Victoria Falls and South Africa’s famed Table Mountain among others.
Makumbe said the different voices coming from SADC now were a sign of “a few things that have gone wrong”.
“Joint marketing of the region is imperative to the growth of the sector and we actually have heard other regional bodies asking us how we have gone about coming up with Retosa with a view of taking it on board,” he said.Advertisement

“We received inquiries during the United Nations World Tourism Authority General Assembly held here last year on the issue, that is how important it is and we as a region cannot afford to do away with it.”
Among other things, Retosa is mandated with the provision of regional tourism statistics and global tourism market intelligence, promote and facilitate the movement and flow of tourists into the region, apply the necessary regional or national policies and mechanisms, which facilitate the liberalisation of trade in tourism services.