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August 23, 2013


LIVINGSTONE, Zambia – The impending arrival of UNWTO delegates from various parts of the globe has been something the Zambians have been prepping for in recent months, and for good reason. Even the country's second in command, Vice President Guy Scott, has said the UNWTO event is a “golden opportunity for Zambians to showcase the country's vast tourism potential to the outside world."

The preparations are in full swing and the anticipation, at least from the Zambian side, for the upcoming United Nations World Tourism Organizations' (UNWTO) 20th General Assembly is building. This is palpable in Lusaka at the Kenneth Kaunda International Airport and in Livingstone at the Harry Mwaange Nkumbula International Airport, as evidenced by ubiquitous signage, the hordes of greeters wearing “UNWTO" white-shirts and exclusive UNWTO Wi-Fi connections available at both airports and at participating hotels. 

Speaking this past weekend at the tourism sector-focused Third Zambia International Investment Forum, held at the Zambezi Hotel, Vice President Scott said: “The UNWTO conference is important to us in that we must make house about ourselves and make sure that rich people from China, India, and the Far East generally know that Victoria Falls, South Luangwa National Park, and other products are found in Zambia. Let's market those, and in general the country's tourism potential, they gave to know what we have."

Taking the lead in marketing Zambia by Zambians and “not by other people" is paramount to the Zambian Vice President. “Let's be number one and stop thinking that other countries know more than us," he said. “Let's just be more aggressive."

The 20th edition of the UNWTO General Assembly marks the first time in the organization's history that two neighboring countries are hosting the event. On the Zambia side, Livingstone will be the site where sessions will be held for this year's General Assembly, while Zimbabwe has appointed Victoria Falls as the host city for the event.

Since its inception, the 20th edition of UNWTO's General Assembly marks the third time Africa has hosted the event - Egypt (in 1995) and Senegal (in 2005). 

Among the efforts by the Zambians to maximize its co-sponsorship of the UNWTO's upcoming event involve the construction of a world-class, mini-dome (a temporary structure erected on the banks of the Zambezi Hotel at the Royal Livingstone Hotel), an extensive transportation plan for delegates in and around Livingstone (shuttles will run from all official hotels to both Zambian and Zimbabwean conference sites at regular intervals), and the Zambian government has decided to ease the movement of travelers via a Gratis visa for delegates and those accompanying them as well as establishing computerized border posts at Katima Mulilo and Kazangula.

In addition, construction to upgrade road infrastructure and airport facilities has also been implemented. It has also been claimed that tourist attractions (such as the Victoria Falls Heritage Site, the Mosi-oa-Tunya National Park, the Livingstone Museum, the Marumba Cultural Village, the Livingstone Art Gallery, and the Mwandi Cultural Tourism Village) have been upgraded.

The 20th edition of the General Assembly by UNWTO, held every other year, will take place from August 24 to 29, 2013.

Photo by Christian Del Rosario, eTN