Thorough preps needed for UNWTO

HARARE - Zimbabwe and Zambia are looking forward to co-hosting the 2013 UNWTO General Assembly set to take place in the resort town of Victoria Falls.

The honour for Zimbabwe is that it would be able to showcase the majestic falls to the whole world and it is our hope that all logistics would be in place when the assembly opens.

Minister of Tourism Walter Mzembi and Karikoga Kaseke the Zimbabwe Tourism Authority (ZTA) boss should be applauded for their efforts so far as they run around preparing for the world gathering.

Mzembi is optimistic the UNWTO General Assembly will record a high turnout. He told local media: “If we get 75 percent turnout at this forthcoming historical event, that would be the best thing to happen, 50 percent would be fair, but 30 percent will not be satisfactory.”

In view of our anticipation of the UNWTO 2013 congress, how well prepared are we as a nation for the incoming influx of people?

As with the much vaunted and anticipated Fifa World Cup 2010, most hotels in Zimbabwe scrambled for funding to “re-furbish” their hotels.

Interestingly and sadly, very little is being said or done towards the training of staff.

Refurbishments are being talked about again by hotels.  While it is important to have a swanky, well-appointed and fashionable establishment, nothing can be more memorable than well-trained staff.

But Victoria Falls, just like Harare or other cities, has seen city authorities failing to maintain the infrastructure — roads and street lighting.  

Discarded litter and piles of garbage have become a feature of our cities while vendors have rendered city pavements “un-negotiable”.

Victoria Falls city fathers will have to go an extra mile because the general filth and neglect of urban amenities has been a cancer among Zimbabweans and no amount of sprucing up of hotels will make it look better.

The solution needs to be a holistic one, between all ministries and parties concerned.

The ministry of Tourism and ZTA need to be applauded for their efforts in promoting and generating tourism, but they cannot be expected to maintain the infrastructure, clean up the cities, cut grass, remove garbage, fix street lighting and paint road signs.  

Hotel workers need to be trained properly, in all aspects of guest handling.  

It is up to every Zimbabwean to make foreign visitors welcome — not just the ministry of Tourism and ZTA.

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