Zim, Zambia ready for UNWTO
Livingstone – Zambia and Zimbabwe were last week finalising preparations for their co-hosting of the 20th UN World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO) General Assembly in the towns of Livingstone and Victoria Falls.
The UNWTO General Assembly was scheduled to run from August 24-31.
Last week, Zimbabwe’s Minister of Tourism and Hospitality Industry Walter Mzembi said the country had spent over US$12 million on its preparations and was confident of successfully hosting the event.
“The hosting budget for the UNWTO was US$6.5 million. That is basically what we have been dealing with in terms of the core budget, but the enabler and facilitation work of other government departments to bring the product up to spec has seen us hit anything beyond US$12 million.
“If you go to our high-density suburbs in Chinotimba (in Victoria Falls Town), you will see some of the good work that has been done,” Minister Mzembi said to journalists from Zambia and Zimbabwe who were touring facilities in the two towns that are co-hosting the global event.
In Victoria Falls, a number of public works were undertaken, including resurfacing and marking of roads, construction of a new electricity substation, installation of a new water pipeline, improvements to fibre-optic links and bandwidth availability and upgrades to the Victoria Falls Hospital and other medical facilities.
Similarly in Livingstone, the water and sewer reticulation systems were upgraded while the roads were also rehabilitated.
At the time of writing, Mzembi’s ministry had accredited delegates from 65 countries and more than 650 rooms had been booked in the resort town of Victoria Falls. Delegates from another 15 countries were awaiting accreditation.
The delegates are drawn from Africa, Latin America, Europe and Asia.
“I must say we have been overwhelmed in the last few days by the level of activity as countries want to be accredited and registered especially after the elections, which, in any sense, is a vote of confidence for the country,” Mzembi said.
Meanwhile, Zambia’s Minister of Tourism and Arts Sylvia Masebo congratulated Zimbabwe for holding peaceful elections saying this augured well for the successful holding of the UNWTO General Assembly.
Minister Masebo said this during a cocktail hosted for Zimbabwean and Zambian journalists assessing the state of preparedness of the two countries ahead of the UNWTO General Assembly and also to mark the 33rd anniversary of the founding of SADC, formerly SADCC.
“Some were worried that that the elections date were too close to the dates of the General Assembly and would disrupt our preparations but you successfully held the elections in a way that shows that as Africans we can hold elections in peace and I am truly proud to be an African,” she said.
Masebo said it was important that Zambia and Zimbabwe took advantage of the vast opportunities that the UNWTO General Assembly would offer to develop tourism between the two countries.
“Let us maximise the opportunities the world has given us to showcase the Victoria Falls as a magnificent tourist destination,” she said. Presidents Robert Mugabe and Michael Sata are expected to officiate at the opening and closing ceremonies.
Among its resolutions at the 33rd Ordinary Summit of SADC Heads of States and Government, regional leaders rallied all members of the bloc to participate support Zambia and Zimbabwe’s co-hosting of the UNWTO General Assembly.
“Summit urged member states to participate fully in the 20th UNWTO General Assembly to be co-hosted by Zambia and Zimbabwe in Livingstone and Victoria Falls during the last week of August, 2013,” reads part of the communiqué from the Summit.