2013 UNWTO General Assembly preparations in disarray

Posted: August 31, 2012 in travel & tourism

The much-anticipated United Nations World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO) General Assembly set for next year hangs in the balance as Zimbabwe, the co-host country, is yet to start the renovation and construction of infrastructure to host the global event.

A year after winning the bid, government is yet to start constructing a convention centre, hotel, villas and a shopping mall on 1, 200 hectares of land.

Government is also yet to secure enough money for the construction work, throwing the entire preparatory process into disarray. In its 2012 budget, Zimbabwe only set aside US$1 million for the construction of the convention centre, which is not enough for all the projects.

Government is instead mulling building a semi-permanent structure made from aluminium glass fabrication – which it claims would last for 15 to 20 years – at Chogm Park, north of Sprayview Hotel in Victoria Falls.

However, Tourism and Hospitality Industry minister, Walter Mzembi said that the country will successfully host the assembly next year.

“Every resource we need is in place, what’s left is the implementation part of making it a success” he said.

Despite Mzembi’s optimism, The Standard observed that surveyors only began working on the centre on Friday last week.

“Surveyors are going to start working on the conference centre and temporary structure,” said Mzembi. “We are still going ahead with the conference centre, shopping mall and Victoria Falls will become a Victorian City from now onwards. As long as I am the chairman of tourism, we are going to successfully host the congress,” he said.

Former Tourism and Hospitality Industry secretary, Sylvester Maunganidze was recently transferred from the ministry after he disclosed to parliament that Zimbabwe had lied about the state of its infrastructure in order to win the bid to host tourism’s biggest global event.

Zimbabwe and Zambia are set to co-host the prestigious event where up to 4 000 participants are expected to attend from the 180-member countries.

Last week, Mzembi and Zambia’s Tourism and Arts minister, Sylvia Masebo signed a joint communiqué which is in line with the provisions of the Bilateral Implementation Framework on the co-hosting of the UNWTO assembly

The joint communiqué stated that the co-hosts would share costs equally and that they would also use the Joint Implementation Framework as a guideline for the successful hosting of the event.

Zimbabwe last week launched a countdown to the 2013 UNWTO assembly in Victoria Falls, an event that will see the city celebrating every month with various artistic performances.

In order to host the conference, Zimbabwe has to upgrade the Victoria Falls airport, revamp water and sewer reticulation systems, resurface roads and rehabilitate the hospital in the resort town.

There is also need for an efficient airline, but Air Zimbabwe – which is reeling from debts and problems associated with old equipment – is only servicing the Harare-Bulawayo-Victoria Falls route, only three days a week.

The General Assembly is the supreme organ of the Organization. Its ordinary ‎sessions, held every two years, are attended by delegates of the Full and Associate ‎Members, as well as representatives from the Business Council.‎

It is also the most important meeting of senior tourism officials and high-level ‎representatives of the private sector from all over the world.

Zambia and Zimbabwe are the hosts of the 2013 edition of the General Assembly.

Courtesy: allafrica.com

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