TOURISM minister Walter Mzembi on Wednesday told the House of Assembly that the United Nations World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO) technical inspection team had adjudged Zimbabwe’s preparedness to host the tourism conference as satisfactory.
REPORT BY VENERANDA LANGA
Mzembi said the team was in Victoria Falls conducting a final technical inspection before the conference slated for August.
He said the critical success factors for the event were peace and stability especially since the country was heading towards elections.
“As per tradition, we do not assess our own state of preparedness – it is assessed by those who have bestowed the rights to host on us and they adjudged it to be satisfactory and our level of collaboration with the Zambians to be excellent,” Mzembi said.
“The vision was to upgrade Victoria Falls infrastructure, but regrettably, we have not been able to do a lot because of competing national interests like Copac, the referendum, elections and other recurrent issues in the country like food security, energy and water.”
He told Parliament he wanted Victoria Falls to be a $30 billion economy like Niagara Falls as it was currently on $1,5 billion gross between Zambia and Zimbabwe.
He said there had been a serious makeover and upgrade of the Victoria Falls town in terms of the road and hospitality infrastructure, adding that about $60 million had been poured into upgrading assets in the resort town.
Mzembi said Mbada Diamonds, Econet and Telecel would also fund some critical elements of the hosting of the General Assembly.
“They are funding the official opening ceremony itself which is no less than a $300 000 budget and some surprises that we will showcase to the nation on the day, as well as an engineering feat which we shall showcase,” he said.
“We are anticipating to do a bridge light up of the Victoria Falls because you cannot see the Victoria Falls bridge during the night.
One of the projects is that we must light it up perennially for the next 15 to 30 years.”