UNWTO: ‘Not a penny from govt’

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THE Zimbabwe government has not yet provided a single cent towards the budget for the co-hosting of the United Nations World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO) general assembly despite the event being less than three months away.

Report by Taurai Mangudhla

Since the country won the bid to co-host the mega tourism event with Zambia in 2010, government is yet to release funds towards conference preparations.

Tourism minister Walter Mzembi says he is unfazed by Treasury’s reluctance to fund preparations for the event to be held from August 24 to 29, saying the private sector had extended tremendous support.

Zimbabwe requires about US$11 million for the successful hosting of the general assembly.

According to the budget, US$6,5 million is to be channelled towards core general assembly activities while US$5,2 million will go to infrstructure development for the host town.

Mzembi said this week adequate resources have been mobilised from sponsors.

“I have never been more confident about the general assembly,” Mzembi said, adding a function to unveil sponsors for the UNWTO general assembly would soon be held.

“We have since stopped citing lack of funding a UNWTO, as you have seen about one million people came for the Harare International Carnival without treasury support.”

The carnival, which according to highly placed sources required at least US$500 000, was supported by the private sector.

Mzembi said construction material for the semi-permanent aluminium glass structure, to be built on African Sun Limited’s Elephant Hills resort golf course in Victoria Falls, has been acquired and is expected in the country next week.

The structure, with a seating capacity of 1 000 delegates and a life span of 30 years, is set to be the main conference centre for the general assembly.

China has donated US$1million worth of sound and translation equipment which has already been shipped and is expected in the country on June 30. The country has also made a commitment to provide six technicians to help install and operate the technology.

Last week Mzembi attended UNWTO’s 95th executive council meeting in Serbia which, according to the minister, commended Zimbabwe and Zambia for their state of preparedness.

“The debate on whether we are ready or not was closed last week by the UNWTO itself and they are the ones who do the monitoring,” said the Tourism minister.

“The only area we have to work on is our preparedness in terms of our state of mind.”

The two countries have come up with an open boarder system and scrapped visa fees for delegates to the general assembly.

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