15 February 2013

Zimbabwe: Zim Squanders UNWTO Indaba Chance - Mzembi

TOURISM minister Walter Mzembi says the country has missed the chance to benefit from legacy projects which are by-products associated with co-hosting of the United Nations World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO) conference in August.

Mzembi told the parliamentary portfolio committee on Natural Resources, Environment and Tourism this week that other government ministries had not moved fast enough to ensure the country fully benefited from the event.

"I must say we are ready to host the conference even if we never received as much as US$1 from treasury," Mzembi said, adding that they would erect temporary facilities for the convenience of visiting delegates.

The legacy projects proposed included the construction of a conference centre as well as the upgrading of the Victoria Falls Airport.

Mzembi said although the failure to deliver these projects does not compromise preparations, Zimbabwe was wasting a golden chance to create legacy projects that would serve the country long after the UNWTO.

"A temporary VIP tent will be constructed next to the Victoria Falls Airport's holding area. The designs and costings have been completed amounting to US$200 000," Mzembi said.

Zimbabwe needs improvements at its ports of entry, including Victoria Falls Airport and the Beitbridge border post, which are perennially congested.

"The OR Tambo International Airport is 20 times what it was before the 2010 World Cup in South Africa. That event planted its own legacy projects in the form of the road network in Johannesburg and other cities, as well as the stadia," Mzembi said.

In contrast, the Zambian government has provided US$20 million for the conference.

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