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INDABA 2012: UNWTO prepares for Victoria Falls showcase

INDABA 2012: UNWTO prepares for Victoria Falls showcase

The United Nations World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO) has given a decisive stamp of approval on how Victoria Falls is shaping up as the signed-and-sealed destination for its August 2013 global General Assembly.

UNWTO executive director Zoltan Somogyi led a delegation of three on an appraisal visit to Victoria Falls (Zimbabwe) and Livingstone (Zambia) in the first week of March 2012.

He told a wrap-up meeting that he truly believes the 2013 general assembly will be very successful and that the private sector will play a key role.

Blanca Peral, the UNWTO programme chief, called their site visit experience “enchanting” and said the hospitality the UNWTO experienced was “generous and imaginative.”

Also on the appraisal team was Helda Tomas, UNWTO deputy regional director for Africa.

The team said they were inspired by the unity of purpose between co-hosts Zambia and Zimbabwe and Somogyi said the two countries only needed to smoothen their transport system for inter-venue traffic.

Meanwhile a Zimbabwe government cabinet taskforce is reported to have intensified work on mobilising resources for the summit and is seeking US$150m to upgrade Victoria Falls Airport and US$350m to build two more hotels and a conference venue.

The Victoria Falls Hospital has been allocated US$6.9m; roads rehabilitation $3.7m and the upgrading of the water supply system US$15m.

The event is expected to bring together 3,000 delegates from about 176 countries and will be a massive boost to Zimbabwe’s tourism sector.