(eTN) – Zambia’s Minister of Tourism changed for fourth time since September of last year, having dire consequences on preparations for the UN World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) meeting in August next year. The new Minister, Sylvia Masebo, has the task of acquainting herself with the tourism industry in Zambia, especially in Livingstone, and trying, at this late stage, to get the town ready.
Meanwhile in Zimbabwe, it would appear that things are going equally awry. From an article in allAfrica.com it is stated that although the Zimbabwe government was splashing its huge plans across the media, it has, in fact, done very little, and there is doubt that these pledges will be met.
In February 2012, it was reported that part of the work to be done prior to the meeting, according to Mr. Walter Mzembi, Minister of Tourism in Zimbabwe, was a convention center, hotels, villas, and shopping mall in Victoria Falls town, along with upgrading of Victoria Falls, Bulawayo, and Harare airports.
He also mentioned road rehabilitation, health care facilities, a theme park, a museum, exhibition parks and halls, broadband and information technology, and a clean and safe water supply in Victoria Falls town.
Here it is July, one year away from the UNWTO meeting, and things are not going according to plan. Earlier this month, Minister Mzembi announced to parliament that that there was still no decision on where to build the planned business center. A 1,200-hectare site had been identified for shopping malls, casinos, a theme park, and other projects, but that is as far as it has gone.
According to allAfrica.com, it has even gotten worse. Tourism Secretary Sylvester Maunganidze delivered the clincher when he revealed Zimbabwe lied about the state of its infrastructure in order to win the bid to host tourism’s biggest global event.
“We made our bids using electronic presentations, which we manipulated because we were competing,” he confessed before parliament’s Natural Resources, Environment and Tourism Portfolio Committee … “If other players don’t play ball, there will be an imaginary Victoria Falls, which I have sold very well to the world, but which is not there.”
This week too, Permanent Secretary for Tourism, Mr. Munesu Munodawafa, stated that he felt government should abandon its ambitions to build the planned 4,000-seat convention center, as it was no longer possible to complete the project in time for the UNWTO meeting. He felt that a semi-permanent structure should be erected instead.
UNWTO officials are on their way to Victoria Falls town and Livingstone in August next year. If plans do not materialize, what will we tell them when they arrive?