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Sadc summit exposes Vic Falls

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THE just-ended Sadc heads of State summit in Victoria Falls exposed the need for the resort town to build more hotels and lodges to accommodate delegates, especially when such gatherings are held during peak tourism periods.

RICHARD MUPONDE
SENIOR REPORTER

The resort town could not cope with the huge influx of delegates and tourists resulting in some approaching individuals offering their houses for accommodation while others were accommodated in Livingstone, Zambia, depriving the country of the much-needed cash inflows.

The Employers’ Association for Safari and Tourism Operators president Clement Mukwasi yesterday conceded more hotels should be built in the resort town.

“I think that we should build more hotels and come up with tourism seasons whereby we declare some months of the year as summit months.

The problem we have currently is that the summits come at the peak of tourism. Conferences should be organised for periods between January and April. That way our room capacity will not be depleted,” Mukwasi said.

He said failure by tourists to get accommodation during the Sadc summit was a blessing in disguise as the majority got to understand the hospitality of Zimbabweans who offered their homes at reasonable rates.

“Most of them understood well that it’s best to research about a destination before visiting.

“Some eventually enjoyed the motorcades and that was also real fun for them. Failing to secure accommodation on their part helped them understand how hospitable Zimbabweans are.

‘They slept in the high-density suburbs and they did not lose any valuables to thieves.

“It showed a very good side of our people,” Mukwasi said.

“We didn’t record a single case of tourist harassment.

“Others created bonds with families they stayed with and have promised that next time they visit, they won’t bother staying in hotels.

“It’s cheaper and there are specialised services when one stays at a house, so they said.”

Hotels and lodges were fully booked in July ahead of the summit.

The resort town encountered a similar accommodation crisis during the United Nations World Tourism Organisation general assembly last year.

The premier tourism event, co-hosted with Zambia, attracted thousands of delegates and holidaymakers from all over the world overwhelming the country’s tourism capacity.

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