World Bulletin/News Desk
Zambia hopes the 20th United Nations World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) General Assembly, which it is co-hosting along with Zimbabwe from August 24 to 29, will have both short- and long-term benefits for its tourism industry.
"As co-hosts, Zambia expects that this meeting will raise its profile in the global travel industry and also further stimulate interest in the land as a destination of choice for holiday and international conferences and conventions," Erroly Hickies, Zambia National Tourist Board chairperson, told Anadolu Agency.
The UNWTO General Assembly is a bi-annual tourism mega-event held on an equal rotational basis among its 186 member states.
This year, it will be hosted in the resort towns of Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe, and Livingstone, Zambia, whose common denominator is the mighty waterfall on the Zambezi River shared by both countries.
Seven key hotels will play host to over 3,000 delegates and officials during the global event, to be officially inaugurated on August 25 by President Michael Sata and his Zimbabwean counterpart Robert Mugabe.
"This event offers many benefits to hosting countries," said Hickies.
"It usually attracts 186 ministers of tourism from across the globe, as well as other international tourism stakeholders and media personnel, thereby elevating the profiles of hosting countries," he added.
The global event was first held in Africa in 2007, with Senegal playing host.
In 1970, the International Union of Official Travel Organizations restructured itself into the United Nations World Tourism Organization, a UN agency responsible for promoting sustainable and accessible tourism.
As a major international tourism institution, the UNWTO promises leadership and support to the global tourism sector with the aim of promoting positive tourism policies worldwide.
Hickies, the Tourist Board chairperson, believes hosting the UNWTO General Assembly will not only increase Zambia's visibility as a tourist destination but will also help improve Zambians' living standards by creating new employment opportunities.
"Tourism, which is recognized as one of the fastest growing industries, offers the potential to create thousands of jobs," said Hickies.
He maintains that the exposure received by such global events is permanent, making it easier to market host countries as viable tourist destinations.
"Many investors first come to a country as tourists before deciding to invest in it," Hickies explained. "The benefits do not terminate at the end of the conference. Infrastructure growth and improvement that result from the conference go beyond the issue date."
Preparations for hosting the global event, especially by the seven official hotels, have been finalized.
All hotels will provide high-speed internet and international and local cuisines to service UNWTO delegates.
The Sun International Zambia, which operates Royal Livingstone Hotel and Zambezi Sun Hotel, is the official venue for UNWTO meetings.
Joyce Sikabbubba, Sun International Zambia public relations manager, promised delegates a comfortable stay, noting that the Royal Livingstone Hotel had recently undergone renovations to the tune of some $7 million.
Similarly, Protea Hotel is ready to accommodate 60 UNWTO delegates.
Robert McCarron, Chrismar Hotel Livingstone general manager, told AA that the hotel had reserved 69 well-furnished rooms for visiting delegates.
McCarron indicated that the hotel had upgraded some rooms, while Zamtel had installed optic fiber on the premises in advance of the conference.
"We will do all that we can to ensure our rooms are ready. Most countries have already made confirmations for the 59 rooms," he said.
Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) rhumba musician Werrasson is scheduled to perform on August 29, while Livingstone residents have been invited to sample the rhumba maestro in the capital.
Zambian Tourism and Arts Minister Sylvia Masebo said she was satisfied with the preparations, especially with infrastructure development, such as health and water reticulation.
She added that the government was involving the local community so that it would be able to benefit from the UNWTO event.
Masebo noted, however, that marketing for the event needed to be stepped up so as to encourage wider participation in this week's conference.Güncelleme Tarihi: 24 Ağustos 2013, 13:02