Safaris eye UNWTO benefits


WILDLIFE safari operators in the Gwayi Conservancy are optimistic that they will benefit in the long term from the United Nation World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO) General Assembly, predicting a huge patronage of their businesses after the tourism gathering.

Own Correspondent

The UNWTO General Assembly, in which nearly 150 countries are expected, kicks off in the resort town of Victoria Falls on Saturday amid revelations hotels in Victoria Falls — which co-hosts the event with Livingstone — Zambia, are 100% booked.

Safari operators in Matabeleland North told Southern Eye they were expecting even bigger business after the UNWTO General Assembly.
Gwayi Conservancy chairman Langton  Masunda  told Southern Eye  yesterday that although they would not reap the  immediate benefits of the UNWTO indaba in the short term, operators in the wildlife sector would establish long-term strategic ties with  international players.

“We will be meeting international agencies during the event and this is good for our business,” Masunda said.
“The benefits will, however, be in the long term. It is only the operators in Victoria Falls who are likely to benefit in the short term,” he added.

The UNWTO General Assembly is expected  to gather over 3 000 guests and will run up to Thursday next week.  Commenting on the impact of mining to the wildlife sector, Masunda said some of the mining industry players were not being considerate of the environment.

This, he added, was a threat to the survival and growth of the wildlife sector in the country. Early this year conservancy operators in the wildlife-rich Gwayi area were involved in a legal wrangle with a prospective coal mining company China Africa Sunlight Energy.

Operators were challenging the carrying out of a full environmental impact assessment study by the mining company leading them to file an urgent application at the High Court seeking to bar China Africa Sunlight Energy from carrying the study.

The Chinese firm is one of 20 companies controversially issued with special grants by the government to explore and extract coal-bed methane gas in the area.
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