New Zimbabwe (London)

Zimbabwe: Tourism to Bring in U.S.$1.5bln - Kaseke

The Zimbabwe Tourism Authority (ZTA) has said the country can expect to earn US$1.5 billion from tourism by 2015 after successful hosting of the United Nations World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO) conference in August.

Zimbabwe and Zambia co-hosted the 20th UNWTO general assembly in Livingstone and Victoria falls towns respectively from August 24 to 29, Zimbabwean news agency New Ziana reported.

The conference was declared as having the highest attendance in the organisation's history, with 900 delegates from the media fraternity, 121 delegates from member states and 140 from all over the world, and 49 foreign ministers and 750 other delegates.

ZTA chief executive officer Karikoga Kaseke said the benefits of hosting the conference were "incalculable".

"On average it takes between one to two years to see the positive benefits of hosting such a big event, however the biggest benefit is the endorsement of Zimbabwe as a safe destination.

"We expect to see the fruits of this endorsement in 2015 when we anticipate to receive three million international tourist arrivals translated to US$1.5 billion in terms of tourism receipts," he said.

Kaseke said the UNWTO general assembly had not left the tourism sector in the country dead but "livened it up instead".

"Tourism has not died after the conference but was left more alive in the sense that the impacts of tourism are going to be positive for a long time.

"When we were bidding we looked at the costs versus the benefits not financial. Zimbabwe has now been acknowledged by the UNWTO as a safe destination meaning any conference of any sort can be held here," he added.

The UNWTO general assembly was held for the first time in southern Africa and the second time on the African continent after it was hosted by Senegal in 2007.

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