Vic Falls basks in UNWTO success

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AFTER successfully hosting the world’s premier tourism event, the United Nations World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO) general assembly in August 2013, the mega event seems to have opened the floodgates for Victoria Falls as a sought-after destination for meetings, conferences and events.

NOKUTHABA DLAMINI
OWN CORRESPONDENT

Tourism minister Walter Mzembi said the legacy of the UNWTO was that Zimbabwe should be viewed “by all and sundry as safe and an attractive tourist destination”.

“In the aftermath of the UNWTO, we as government have seriously positioned Victoria Falls as the place for meetings, conferences and events. The facilities are there and the will is there. We are happy that we are beginning to reap the fruits of hosting the UNWTO general assembly,” Mzembi said.

Among the gatherings set to be hosted in Victoria Falls are the Routes Africa Forum slated for June 22-26.

Routes Africa Forum brings together African airlines and airports seeking to open new air traffic routes for the continent.

The forum hosted by the Civil Aviation Authority of Zimbabwe is expected to bring more than 2 000 delegates to the resort town. Soon after the forum, Victoria Falls would play host to the Zimbabwe National Chamber of Commerce convention that would be attended by captains of industry from neighbouring countries from June 26 to 30.

In August, Victoria Falls plays host to the Sadc Summit at which Heads of States and government from the regional bloc’s 14-member states are set to meet to discuss issues of regional importance.

The resort town would then host the International Blood Transfusion Forum where blood donor organisations from around the world meet to map the way forward amid an increasing threat to safe blood supplies posed by HIV and Aids.

The Zimbabwe National Blood Transfusion Service will host the event.

In mid-October, the inaugural Africa Strategic Marketing Association Forum that brings together marketing gurus from across the continent would also converge on the town.

The forum would be the first the organisation would hold since the formation of the Africa Strategic Marketing Association a few years ago.

The Victoria Falls International Carnival, a street party featuring revellers, artistes and performers from the Sadc region and beyond, would bring down the curtain for the year’s events in the popular resort town.

The carnival runs from December 27 to January 1.

With construction work to expand the Victoria Falls International Airport to enable it to accommodate bigger planes almost complete, the tourism traffic is set to increase in the resort town.

The town had suffered together with the country’s economy at the hands of travel warning and bans from Europe.

The removal of travel warnings and bans in 2010 coupled with the implementation of the Zimbabwe Tourism Authority Perception Management Programme that saw the invitation of international musicians seems to have given Victoria Falls much needed mileage.

It was, however, the hosting of the UNWTO last year that gave the resort town a thumbs up from the international tourism sector after years in the woods.