The Zimbabwe Council for Tourism has allayed fears the planned United Nations Tourism Organisation congress preparations could be in shambles, saying all was on course.
ZCT president Glenn Stutchbury said a range of activities initiated by the public and private sectors were under way aimed at ensuring the resort area was geared to hosting an event of its magnitude.
“Tourism operators in Zimbabwe are looking forward to this event, which will have a major impact on business levels and will have longer-term advantage for the Zimbabwean travel and tourism sector.
Operators are all playing a role in helping to make sure Victoria Falls is ready for the congress and that it can cope with the demands made by the large number of people who will be in attendance,” he said.
A total of US$16 million is being spent by hotel groups on refurbishment, which includes the already-completed work on the A’Zambezi Hotel, with US$4,5 million being spent on upgrading and changes at the Victoria Falls Safari Lodge, US$3 million on a major refurbishment of the Victoria Falls Hotel and US$1,5 million on a complete refurbishment and rebranding of the new Cresta Sprayview Hotel.
Other hotels involved in refurbishment activity include Elephant Hills, The Kingdom at Victoria Falls, the Rainbow Hotel and Ilala Lodge, various works which total US$1,15 million.
“All of this work is either complete or scheduled for completion well in time for the UN WTO meeting, and all of it will have a long-term benefit in that the results of the refurbishment will be enjoyed by all visitors to Victoria Falls in coming months and years, not only those people present for the WTO gathering,” said Stutchbury.
Public works being undertaken in the Victoria Falls area include extensions to the resort’s airport, widening and resurfacing 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.
The ZRP Tourism Police have been working with hotels on issues such as education of staff on crime awareness.
“There is an unmatched commitment among everyone, whether public or private sector, to the success of this important event, in recognition of the benefit to Zimbabwe’s travel and tourism sector, not only at the time of the congress but in the period afterwards, when a successful meeting could bring positive word of mouth about Zimbabwe in general and Victoria Falls in particular,” said Stutchbury.
“The Zimbabwe Council for Tourism and its members are working closely with all relevant authorities to ensure maximum co-operation and efficiencies in the run-up period and during the congress period. We are determined to achieve all we set out to do and we know how much this means to Zimbabwe as a whole.”