PRESS RELEASE                                                                                                                  23 November 2012

ZIMBABWE TOURISM INDUSTRY READY FOR UNWTO 2013

The UNWTO General Assembly, August 2013? Bring it on, say Zimbabwe’s private sector tourism players!

Council for Tourism (ZCT) president Glenn Stutchbury, who leads the tourism business apex body says his members are leaving no stone unturned to show off the best of Zimbabwe during the meeting of the world’s travel industry leaders, policy makers and media.

“There’s no doubt about the increasing levels of confidence in Zimbabwe as a destination, as shown by the return of major international carriers and desire of even more to start operating into the country,” he said, citing the introduction of Emirates and KLM, amongst others, and increased frequencies of air carriers already flying Zimbabwe.

Hotels in the World Heritage Site resort of Victoria Falls have blocked rooms for the anticipated 800 delegates who will be co-hosted with the Zambian town of Livingstone, across the Zambezi River. The hotels have embarked on varying levels of refurbishment, with Africa Albida Tourism opening its   impressive 20-room all-suite, butler-service Safari Club.

The Rainbow Tourism Group’s A’Zambezi River Lodge underwent extensive upgrading and most recently well-known regional hospitality management firm Cresta Hospitality made its debut in the Falls, to run the Cresta Sprayview.

Activity operators in Victoria Falls, led by Shearwater and Wild Horizons among others, continue to offer a wide range of thrilling leisure options.

“The General Assembly offers an opportunity for the business players in the Falls to up their game, and challenges us to improve what we believe is already an outstanding destination.  As industry we are extremely confident that we are well placed to deliver on accommodation, transport and activities to the visitors,” said Stutchbury.

At the UNWTO last Site Inspection Visit at the end of August 2012, the inspection team gave the private sector’s efforts a thumbs-up.

“We have accorded this event priority status and, as such, a high-powered ZCT team, led by Vice-President (Hospitality) Francis Ngwenya and hotelier Derrick Kung and tour operator Barbara Murasiranwa both Victoria Falls-based in support, are in close liaison with our Government and other stakeholders working as the Local Organising Committee,” said the president.

He added, “Industry has responded to the call for product improvement in the sector by the Minister of Tourism. Viability of development and product improvement projects rely on the use of the SI124/2011 and the only factor preventing use of this intrument to full benefit is the interpretation of the SI by the Ministry of Finance. Industry are working closely with the Ministry of Tourism and Hospitality and the Zimbabwe Tourism Authority to get clarity on this critical issue”.

He noted that the Zambian government had introduced SI69 which allows for duty free imports of all non-food goods for hotels, restaurants and cafés, inclusive of furniture, linen, glassware and the like. Clearly, he said, the Zambian Government was taking the UNWTO General Assembly and the resurgence of Zimbabwean tourism seriously.

Improvements across Victoria Falls are in progress and finance has been put in place to spruce up the town, and to ensure its enviable reputation for safety and tranquillity are maintained.  The private sector is actively involved in this effort.

The ZCT President said he was pleased with the teamwork with the Tourism Ministry and Authority and the spirit of ‘all hands on deck’ to ensure delivery of the most memorable, ‘uniquely African’ General Assembly to date.

Mr Stutchbury concluded: “The UNWTO General Assembly is not the World Cup Soccer, it is a convergence of tourism professionals and technocrats to the destinations of Victoria Falls and Livingstone.   When, and not if, we deliver, it will be the greatest endorsement of our destination.  I find it interesting that the sceptics suggest the two towns are ill-prepared for an event of this size, the two towns have run at very good occupancies this high season and in hosting the UNWTO General Assembly we will be doing what we as industry players in Victoria Falls and Livingstone do best – look after visitors”.

The Zimbabwe Council for Tourism’s members comprise the following:

AZTA     – The Association of Zimbabwe Travel Agents

BAR        – The Board of Airline Representatives

BOAZ     – The Boating Operators Association of Zimbabwe

CEAZ      – Catering Employers Association of Zimbabwe

HAZ        – Hospitality Association of Zimbabwe

ITOZA    – Inbound Tour Operators of Zimbabwe Association

SOAZ     – Safari Operators Association of Zimbabwe

ZIVRA    – Zimbabwe Vehicle Rental Association

Ends

For further information, contact:

June Muchemenyi-Nazare

ZCT Secretariat

9th Floor, Travel Centre, Jason Moyo Ave, Harare

ceozct@gmail.com

04-708872