UNWTO team expected in Vic Falls

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A HIGH-POWERED United Nations World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO) technical team is expected in Victoria Falls next week for final inspection of preparations ahead of the general assembly to be co-hosted by Zimbabwe and Zambia in August.

Report by Taurai Mangudhla

The team will assess the two countries’ preparedness exactly eight weeks before the general assembly kicks off in the resort towns of Victoria Falls and Livingstone from August 24 to 29.

Tourism minister Walter Mzembi said the four-member team will be led by UNWTO relations and services executive director Zoltan Somogyi.

Mzembi said the visit has no bearing on the two nations’ status as co-hosts, as they were officially endorsed as the official co-hosts by the executive council of the UNWTO at its 95th executive council meeting in Serbia last month.

“This is the final technical visit before the general assembly takes place and I must clarify that no inspection will take place,” Mzembi said.

But according to a programme for the visit, the team will inspect the venues, meeting rooms and offices in both countries.
If elections are held on August 14 in Zimbabwe as is being proposed after the Sadc summit in Maputo, the UNWTO conference will be held 10 days after the polls.

“The general assembly is already ours and that won’t change, but the visit is just to fine-tune,” said Mzembi.

Zambia’s Tourism minister Sylvia Masebo said the elections will not affect the successful hosting of the conference because the planning has already been done.

The technical team’s visit comes as government is yet to release money to fund preparations amid reports that Botswana and South Africa are now on stand-by if Zimbabwe and Zambia fail to pull it off.

But Mzembi said his ministry has received tremendous support from the private sector.

Zimbabwe requires about US$11 million for the event.

A visit to the site of the opening ceremony will be carried out on the Zimbabwean side, while another would be made to the site of the closing ceremony on the Zambian side.

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