The Ministry of Environment,Tourism and Hospitality Industry hosted the Third Edition of Africa Youth in Tourism Conference from 10 -12 October 2019 at ZITF grounds in Bulawayo.
The Conference was running under the theme ‘Changing Africa’s Future by accelerating Investment Capacity in Youth for Sustainable Tourism Development. ‘
Zimbabwe Youth in Tourism patron,Her Excellency The First Lady Amai A Mnangagwa,has called on African countries to synchronise their tourism,trade and investment policy frameworks to take full advantage of the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) agreement.
The First Lady said that financial institutions should mentor the youths until they are able to manage their ventures.
“May we all start supporting these young children in order for them to achieve their full potential. May I,in this regard ,take this opportunity to appeal to banks and corporates to heed the Government’s call to support the youths within the sector, “she said.Most financial institutions require collateral,which most of these youths do not have.I therefore appeal to you to look into their ideas and move with them until they can stand on their own.”
Tourism is seen as Zimbabwe’s low hanging fruit with potential to contribute significantly towards economic turn around.
In this regard, the First Lady said it was important to spearhead the empowerment of African youths for them to fully participate in growing their countries’ economies and the continent at large,through tourism.
“The promotion of the participation of youths is in line with the Sustainable Development Goals(SDGs).It is also in sync with the policies enunciated by the Government of Zimbabwe as well as the programme on the promotion and participation of women and youth in the tourism sector promulgated by the United Nations World Tourism Organisation, “she said.
The First Lady,who is passionate about women and youths’ empowerment, recently provided skills and training to several young girls in the tourism sector in partnership with the Zimbabwe Tourism Authority and National Parks.
She said hosting of the Tourism Conference in Zimbabwe was testimony to Government’s commitment to support youths.Amai Mnangagwa urged youths to work hard and take advantage of opportunities available on the continent.She added that the youths from other African countries who attended the Conference should be Zimbabwe’s brand ambassadors by helping to tell the country’s story.
The youths held competitions on debate and public speaking focusing on tourism, culture and economy.
Kwekwe Polytechnic participants won the competitions and received a trophy and other prizes which were handed over by the First Lady.
Acting Minister of Environment, Tourism and Hospitality Industry Hon NM Ndhlovu also emphasised the need to empower youths as they were an active economic pillar.
“Tourism is one of the key pillars of Zimbabwe’s Transitional Stabilisation Programme. It has relatively low entry barriers and good returns can be attained in a reasonably short space of time and yet the potential largely remains untapped,” he said.
Director of Africa Youth in Tourism Zimbabwe Chapter Mr Stewart Mutizwa said young people continued to face structural challenges embedded in the gap between policy promises and implementation.
Bulawayo Provincial Affairs Minister Hon J Ncube,Permanent Secretary of Environment,Tourism and Hospitality Industry Mr M Munodawafa and other Senior Government officials attended the Conference.