Zambia: Govt Stands to Benefits From UNWTO Hosting With Zim

Brian Hatyoka

19 October 2011

THE 186 member United Nations World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO) General Assembly has continued to be an important global event.

The general assembly is the principal gathering of the UNWTO which meets after every two years to consider the budget and programme of work of the United Nations specialised agency on tourism.

Delegates to the general assembly are drawn from the six regional commissions of the UNWTO from Africa, the Americas, the East and Pacific Europe, the Middle East and South Asia.

The event usually attracts 186 ministers responsible for tourism as well as media personnel and tourism stakeholders from various countries internationally thereby raising the profiles of hosting countries worldwide.

During the 19th Session of the UNWTO general assembly, which was held in South Korea from October 8 - 14 2011, Zambia and Zimbabwe won the bid to co-host the 20th Session of the UNWTO general assembly.

Delegates unanimously agreed that Zambia and Zimbabwe co-host this important World event in 2013 in Livingstone and Victoria Falls town.

The proposed venues for the event would be Elephant Hills Resort in Victoria Falls town (Zimbabwe) and the Convention Centre at Royal Livingstone Hotel (Zambia), both are five star facilities.

Accommodation would be furnished by Royal Livingstone Hotel and 3-star Zambezi Sun Hotel and would be complimented by a range of hotels such as four star David Livingstone safari lodge as well as Chrismar and Protea Hotels.

Livingstone city on the Zambian side and Victoria Falls town on the Zimbabwean side share the border on the Zambezi River and the ‘mighty’ Victoria Falls which is One of the Seven Wonders of the World.

In addition to the unique Victoria Falls experience, the two countries offer other enriching attractions and activities which enhance the visitor experience to the destination, the world’s most peaceful destinations.

Livingstone and Victoria Falls towns share an excellent wildlife and have a brilliant road network making it easy to connect to places or destinations within the Southern Africa region.

Each of the two towns has an international airport and they the capacity of landing aircraft up to the size of 767-800 and packing up to 10 mid-size aircraft at a time.

Together, the two towns have the capacity to host an international meeting of more than 2, 000 delegates in terms of accommodation, amenities, air and ground handling facilities among others.

In Livingstone, the Harry Mwaanga Nkumbula International Airport will be handling approximately 900, 000 passengers annually after the completion of the US$ 12 million rehabilitation of a terminal building next year.

Currently, the Airport has the capacity to handle 250, 000 passengers per year while a new terminal building would be handing 649, 000 passengers annually thereby bringing the total to 899, 000.

This increased capacity at Harry Mwaanga Nkumbula International Airport to handle more passengers will be beneficial to delegates who will travel to Livingstone by air.

In terms of banking, the services are excellent in the two towns and are well complimented with various Bureau De Changes while the hotels generally accept all major international credit and debit cards.

Ministry of Information, Broadcasting and Tourism Public Relations Officer (Tourism) Isaac Kanguya said the announcement that the two countries won the bid came to the jubilation of delegates from both sides who previously spent sleepless nights in the preparation of the joint bid documents.

According to the UNWTO Secretary General Taleb Rifai, the document submitted by the two countries was the first kind of bid received by the Secretariat in its 28 years as a United Nations organ for World Tourism.

Mr Rifai declared that since there was no counter bid for the hosting of the 2013 General Assembly and in the spirit of rotating the hosting of the event, members unanimously agreed to allow Zambia and Zimbabwe to host the 2013 Event.

He assured the two nations of full support from the UNWTO Secretariat as they host the event.

And delivering the joint communiqué in the General Assembly after the declaration, Zambian Minister of Information, Broadcasting and Tourism Given Lubinda said he was grateful to the Government of the Republic of Korea for the warm welcome and the hospitality extended to all the delegates to the 19th Session of the UNWTO General Assembly.

Mr Lubinda expressed gratitude to the two Principals, The President of the Republic of Zimbabwe Robert Gabriel Mugabe and Michael Chilufya Sata President of the Republic of Zambia for giving their full support to the joint bid between Zambia and Zimbabwe to host the 20th UNWTO General Assembly.

He also thanked officials from the two Governments for putting together a professional, comprehensive and complete bid.

Mr Lubinda thanked Mr Rifai for receiving the joint bid committee at the UNWTO Headquarters in Madrid Spain and facilitating meetings with the Spanish Government and the Ambassadors accredited to Spain.

He expressed his heartfelt gratitude to all members of the UNWTO General Assembly for awarding the two countries the honor to co-host the 20th Session of the UNWTO General Assembly in 2013.

The Minister assured the meeting that since the first battle had been won, the two Presidents of Zambia and Zimbabwe would be briefed in detail and embark on the way forward on hosting the General Assembly.

He extended an invitation to UNWTO Secretariat, member states of the UNWTO, Affiliate members and others with experience in hosting UNWTO General Assemblies and other similar events to provide technical and other assistance to the two Governments and the joint planning teams in preparing for the 20th UNWTO General Assembly.

Mr Lubinda congratulated the Zambian team for the job well done and also for the weeks of hard work that the team put in and urged them not to relax as the actual work had just started.

So far, various stakeholders in the tourism sector in Livingstone have welcomed the news of the successful bid for the two countries.

The stakeholders are hopeful that the demand for accommodation will be unprecedented while there would be massive infrastructure development on both sides of Zambia and Zimbabwe.

Livingstone Tourism Association (LTA) chairperson Kingsley Lilamono said the successful bid for the two countries was good news for Southern Africa region especially for Zambia and Zimbabwe.

Mr Lilamono said the development was a great opportunity to sky-rocket the tourism industry as the world tourism focus would be on the region during the general assembly.

“Firstly, I would like to congratulate all those that were involved in the preparation of this bid. This will be a very large gathering of tourism delegates of about 1000, not including the media.

They will all converge on the Victoria Falls area for over a week. The demand for accommodation will be unprecedented. There will be massive infrastructure development on both sides,” he said.

Mr Lilamono also echoed Zambian Minister of Information, Broadcasting and Tourism Given Lubinda’s statement in South Korea that the country should not relax as work has just begun.

“I am worried that Zambians are not as proactive as our counterparts, the Zimbabweans. If we are not careful we will watch the benefits accruing only on one side of the Victoria Falls- Zimbabwe,” he said.

Mr Lilamono said there was need for Zambians to change their attitude and approach to how they work.

“Being part of the bidding team, I was not convinced that we were doing our best. Our counterparts (Zimbabweans) were always more organized than us. I will appreciate if we can show marked improvement on this,” he said.

Mr Lilamono said during the event, service providers would have to work extremely hard to match the demand saying both sides of the Victoria Falls would experience exponential increase in revenue.

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