$1m for UNWTO preps

HARARE - Government will this week disburse $1 million towards the United Nations World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO) general assembly preparations, Tourism minister Walter Mzembi says.

He said the money — to fund a publicity campaign of the premier event to be co-hosted by Zimbabwe and Zambia in August this year — is part of the $6,5 million promised earlier by Finance minister Tendai Biti.

“We have no doubt Treasury will meet its obligation, it is up to the Finance minister to give a technical breakdown of the allocation, but he has promised to meet the commitment,” Mzembi said.

This comes as Mzembi has alleged that Biti is refusing to fund the UNWTO assembly because of “glory politics”.

Biti has said the UNWTO event is not of priority as government has no funds.

While Mzembi has up until now not received Treasury support, the Zambian government has allocated $20 million for the event’s preparations.

Mzembi said the financial gaps will be mitigated through corporate sponsorship and his ministry has already approached various organisations for financial support.

Although he could not disclose the names of the organisations that will avail funds for the assembly, he said companies are going to pay so that they use the assembly logo on their products.

Meanwhile, Mbada Diamonds has donated $2,5 million.

“Companies will pay for the use of the assembly logo alongside their own logos, this will be good for brands and also improve the cash inflow for the assembly books,” Mzembi said.

He said the logo validity will expire on August 29.

Questioned if the UNWTO is not being overrated in Zimbabwe as the last assembly in Korea only attracted 1 000 delegates, Mzembi argued it was a big event for Zimbabwe.

“The pitch we envisaged was of a world class general assembly in the order of the Rio+20, the ITU in Geneva, all those are specialised general assembly meetings, ours is especially going to be bigger as it is a highlight on our calendar,” he said. - Business Writer

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