THE co-hosting of the 20th session of the United Nations World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO) General Assembly by Zambia and Zimbabwe has stimulated a lot of economic activities in Livingstone.
Arguably, the major benefit of this prestigious conference is that preparations leading to the hosting of the event have created more 1, 000 direct and indirect jobs mostly in Livingstone.
To start with, the Zambian Government has spent more than K400 million on various projects in Livingstone in readiness for the UNWTO General Assembly.
This huge sum of money has not gone unnoticed as several jobs either directly or indirectly have been created in Zambia's tourist capital.
For instance, more than 300 construction workers were engaged for a new international terminal building at Harry Mwaanga Nkumbula International Airport where about K190 million had been spent to date.
According to project architect Martin Kabwili, about 350 construction workers were engaged to put up the new terminal building.
The existing airport building has the capacity to attract 250, 000 passengers per year while the new terminal building would be attracting about 700, 000 passengers annually.
"Although the airport was opened for use on Wednesday this week, we still have more than 200 workers at the site currently as some works are yet to be completed in the next three weeks.
"As construction decreases, the number of workers decreases too. We are hoping to finish all the works in the next three months after which consultants and contractors will be out of the site," Mr Kabwili said.
National Airports Corporation (NACL) Managing Director Robinson Misitala said the airport recruited a number of security officers to handle the new international terminal building at Harry Mwaanga Nkumbula International Airport.
He said NACL would have additional staff of 50 and he believed that other entities such as curio shops and banks which would be operating inside the facility would employ about 50 people, hence bringing the total number to 100.
"We are talking about creating over 100 jobs in the new building. All spaces have already been taken and Zanaco as well as Zamtel are already here.
"We will have banks and a bureau de change. We will have duty free shops, restaurants, cafes and and Flamingo which will in turn create more job opportunities," Mr Misitala said.
On another hand, the construction of Maramba Cultural Village at a cost of K4.1 million by Chinese firm Chao Chao Construction Limited in readiness for the UNWTO conference has created a lot of direct and indirect jobs in Livingstone.
According to Southern Province arts and cultural officer James Zimba, the contractor told him that about 80 local people and five Chinese experts were engaged from the beginning up to the end of the project.
"Close to 100 people benefited to be more realistic. The 100 were directed benefiting from the payroll but what about those whom contractors went to buy crush stones and grass from in Kalomo?
They were also creating jobs. Even now, we are structuring and we will look at employment creation at that place as we will be running traditional food cuisines, crafts, entertainment, visual arts exhibitions and fashion exhibitions among others," Mr Zimba said.
He said musicians would be composing their music while those who make jewelry would increase a number of productions because an extra market outlet had been created which was not there previously.
"These are the impacts of hosting the UNWTO conference. The impact will be beyond in terms of what will be left. We will have professional sound and lighting system and we will require experts to handle them. We will have curio shops and we will need people to see," he said.
The Village, which would be employing close to 20 staff, would have security and that would mean employing security people.
"We will also need cleaners, chefs, drivers, bar men and women while we will buy food products from local farmers and ultimately create direct and indirect employment," he said.
Livingstone Town Clerk Vivian Chikoti said the local authority engaged 150 cleaners who are cleaning the city daily.
Ms Chikoti said the 150 cleaners would continue maintaining cleanliness in the city even after the UNWTO General Assembly.
She said in all the various projects which the council undertook in readiness for the UNWTO General Assembly, about 100 workers were engaged on a temporary basis and their work would come to an end after the launch of the projects.
The projects included the construction of three public ablution blocks as well as the upgrading of Victoria Hall, Livingstone Fire Brigade, the old civil centre and the current civic centre, among others.
"All the three public toilets and the council library have been completed and they are ready for use and commissioning.
"Victoria Hall, which was in a dilapidated state, has been fully upgraded and it is ready for exhibitions, weddings, entertainment, political meetings and other public gatherings," Ms Chikoti said.
"The upgrading of the old civic centre, current civic centre and the fire brigades is almost complete," she added.
Livingstone City Council also received two fire tenders and two refuse trucks from the ministry of Local Government and Housing.
This will surely go a long way in responding to fires in the city as well as in maintaining cleanliness in the tourist capital after the General Assembly.
Another interesting feature of Livingstone is that the main roads namely Mosi oa Tunya, Nakatindi and Airport have street lights which have ultimately improved the security of visitors and residents in the night.
Ms Chikoti said the installation of streetlighting would be completed soon for Kafubu, Maramba and Libuyu roads, among other streets in the city.
The hosting of the UNWTO conference also prompted Tourism and Arts Minister Sylvia Masebo to remove vendors from the streets.
Thus, the streets of Livingstone are currently clean while trees have been planted in various parts of the city to add beauty.
Some people now even go to an extent of likening Livingstone to one of the beautiful towns and cities in other countries because of its beauty and cleanliness.
One resident, who declined to be named, suggested that the Government and other stakeholders should come up with a deliberate plan to upgrade other towns and cities in Zambia in terms of cleanliness like the case was for Livingstone.
Another aspect which has come alongside the hosting of the UNWTO conference is the painting of buildings in Livingstone.
While almost all the buildings along the main Mosi oa Tunya Road have been painted, most Livingstone residents living outside the town centre have also been prompted to paint and upgrade their homes and churches, among other premises.
There has been a wave of improvement across the city and most buildings, which were previously in a dilapidated state, are currently looking clean and attractive.
In the road sector, Inyatsi Roads Zambia was given a contract of K118 million to upgrade 40 kilometres of selected township roads in readiness for the UNWTO General Assembly.
Inyatsi Roads Zambia, however, upgraded more roads after they were added to the contract and this meant that the number of jobs created also went up.
Some extra roads being upgraded currently, which were not included in the initial contract, are the road leading to Livingstone Gold Club as well as Zambezi Way and Chimwemwe Road, among others.
A number of Livingstone residents were engaged to help in the upgrading of roads and in putting up of drainage systems.
Several roads which previously had potholes, including Mosi oa Tunya which was earlier referred to as bubblegum road due to its bumpy state, have since been upgraded to quality standard.
This means that motorists will now reduce on the cost of repairing their vehicles which were damaged due to poor roads.
Further, the frontage of the Main Post Office which was also in a dilapidated state has been upgraded and motorists now find it easy to use it.
In addition, the construction of an international bus terminus as well as the new town centre market and Victoria Falls world heritage site infrastructure at a cost of more than K70 million in readiness for the UNWTO General Assembly have also created more jobs in the city as can be seen by the number of workers executing the projects.
For the first time in the history of Livingstone, Victoria Falls now has modern lavatories which also have showers for people to use at no cost.
Importantly, contractors from Kalomo were also engaged to build a new curio market at the Victoria Falls world heritage site.
Livingstone Museum director Chipo Simunchembu said the museum spent more than K1.3 million to upgrade the facility and a number of jobs were created in the process.
"We finished the paving of the front part and did landscaping of the museum. We planted new trees and grass while we painted the entire building inside and outside. All these were jobs created.
"We also finished a new curio shop within the museum so that UNWTO delegates could come here and buy products which they could take to their countries," he said.
Mr Simunchembu said the museum was currently drilling a borehole to improve water supply at the premises.
He said steady water supply from the borehole would benefit visitors in an event that Southern Water and Sewerage Company was unable to supply water.
On health matters, the benefits of hosting the UNWTO conference has been massive as more than 2, 000 Livingstone residents have been screened and treated for various ailments free of charge.
The free medical check-ups which were launched by First Lady Christine Kaseba in Livingstone recently included cervical cancer, breast cancer, prostate cancer, high blood pressure, diabetes, HIV and AIDS, eye and dental, among others.
On skills development, about 120 police officers from Southern and Western provinces were trained in the areas of tourism policing, protocol and etiquette, organised crime, human rights and other security fields in readiness for the UNWTO conference.
The officers were also trained in how to curb sophisticated crimes such as terrorism and this brought about skills development among officers.
Further, 237 Livingstone residents recently graduated as neighbourhood watch security officers to assist the defence and security wings to curb crime in various communities during and beyond the General Assembly.
The courses included organisational structure and police administration, witness identification, security education, human rights, arresting of offenders, diplomatic immunity, corrupt practices, community policing, human-animal conflict, drug trafficking, cross-border poaching, evidence, traffic management, foot patrols and physical training in terms of drills.
Participants during the training included 203 Livingstone residents from all the 17 wards and 34 council police from Livingstone City Council.
In addition, more than 200 residents from various parts of the city were trained as front office managers and also trained in African cuisines and food preparations in readiness for the General Assembly.
Such skills will go a long way in adding value to their lives during and beyond the UNWTO conference.
In the media category, 10 journalists from all media outlets in Livingstone were part of media practitioners across Zambia and abroad who were recently trained by the UNWTO Secretariat in various aspects of tourism reporting in readiness for the General Assembly.
This training for members of the Livingstone Press Club, which was facilitated by Ms Masebo, brought about skills development in the Livingstone media.
According to Zambia Daily Mail Livingstone-based reporter Chomba Musika, the training had for the first time prepared Livingstone journalists to cover preparations for any big global events like the UNWTO General Assembly.
Livingstone's Falls FM reporter Nelly Namakando said journalists in the tourist capital were exposed a lot in terms of traveling and interacting with other media personnel during the UNWTO media workshop held in Lusaka in March this year.
"We learnt the cultural aspects of journalists from other countries during this workshop and to me this is one of the benefits of hosting the UNWTO conference.
"We were trained on how to report tourism not the way we used to report before. Since then, our reporting has improved and we have even starting touring tourism sites so that we appreciate them more as we report on tourism," she said.
By and large, the upgraded infrastructure in Livingstone will attract more investors and tourists to Zambia and ultimately stimulate economic growth.
Almost every Livingstone resident has a story to tell in terms of how she or he benefitted, and the benefits will, no doubt, go beyond the UNWTO General Assembly.