Hoping to capitalize on the tourism marketing budgets of neighboring Southern African countries, Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe is promoting open borders on the continent in general and in Zimbabwe and Zambia in particular, according to a report in ZimDaily.
Mugabe spoke Sunday during the opening of the 20th United Nations World Tourism Organisation general assembly in Victoria Falls. The event was jointly hosted by Zimbabwe and Zambia, which share a common border along the falls.
Connectivity of African cities and attractions will help grow African tourism, Mugabe said. Integrating the African tourism product and its marketing promotion will make it more attractive to the long-haul traveler.
Mugabe wants regional visas that he said will allow easier travel among Southern African Development Community citizens. The 15 SADC-member countries include Angola, Botswana, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Lesotho, Madagascar, Malawi, Mauritius, Mozambique, Namibia, Seychelles, South Africa, Swaziland, Tanzania, Zambia and Zimbabwe.
Mugabe was named deputy chairman of the inter-governmental SADC shortly after winning the July 31 Zimbabwen presidential election.
“The type of seamless border between Livingstone and Victoria Falls Town that has been put in place for purposes of this conference should become the rule and not the exception, for all adjacent touristic border communities throughout SADC and ultimately Africa,” Mugabe said.
Africa can benefit from increasingly behaving like a single common market, he said. It has long been Mugabe’s dream for a United States of Africa to become a reality one day.
“Events like this one, constructed and positioned as ‘a uniquely African general assembly’ may be small but critical in the realization of an integrated economic-political entity called Africa,” he said.
Mugabe said “the endorsement of our two countries (Zimbabwe and Zambia) as worthy hosts of such a meeting” served as recognition that this destination “is safe and secure for the world’s tourists.”