The Ministry of Tourism and Hospitality Industry has so far accredited 65 countries for the United Nations World Tourism Organisation General Assembly while more than 650 rooms have been booked in the resort town of Victoria Falls. Speaking at the handover ceremony of UNWTO equipment by TelOne in Harare yesterday, outgoing Tourism and Hospitality Industry Minister Walter Mzembi said there were 15 more countries that were awaiting accreditation before the general assembly.
He said this meant that at least 121 more rooms would be needed to accommodate delegates from these countries.
Zimbabwe and Zambia are co-hosting the meeting in Victoria Falls and Livingstone from August 24 to 29.
“I must say we have been overwhelmed in the last 10 days by the level of activity as countries want to be accredited and registered especially after the elections which in any sense is a vote of confidence for the country,” he said.
He said there had been a challenge in getting locals, who were holding on to rooms that could be used to accommodate international guests at hotels in the resort town, to release them. Investigations revealed that 265 rooms were being held by locals.
“We appeal to people in the Government and the private sector who may be holding on to rooms at the destinations that were designated for the purpose of registering our international delegates to release them so that we can accommodate our guests first and ourselves last,” Minister Mzembi said.
He added that final preparations were on course and progressing well to facilitate the co-hosting of the general assembly.
“The semi-permanent structure is now complete and will be handed over anytime soon. As we speak, a Chinese technical team is on the ground testing all electrical equipment and indoor and outdoor public address systems,” he said.
He added that the thatched space at the Elephant Hills Hotel would be taken up by small to medium enterprises so that they could display their arts and crafts in a bid to facilitate trade with the delegates.
Meanwhile, TelOne handed 11 direct lines, two fax lines, free internet connectivity and five desktops, two laptops over to the ministry for the secretariat and also free data vouchers for all delegates to allow Wi-Fi access from TelOne hotspots. TelOne acting managing director Mrs Ellen Chivaviro said the ministry was now equipped to host a successful and paperless conference.
“Government’s vision to make Victoria Falls a cyber city has materialised as TelOne has set up Wi-Fi hot- spots at major hotels including the Elephant Hills Hotel were the conference will be held, the Victoria Falls International Airport and the CBD.
“This means that one can be connected to the internet on their laptops or smartphones from any part of the town,” she said.
Last week TelOne commissioned the Vic Falls fibre optic transmission link that is set to bring fast and low- cost broadband to the resort town.