The event, which would attract several delegates across the globe, would be held in Livingstone and Victoria Falls Town from August 24 to 29, 2013 under one destination called the Victoria Falls.
To start with, the UNWTO General Assembly is held every two years and attended by delegates of the full and associate members as well as representatives from the business council.
The General Assembly is the most important meeting of senior tourism officials and high-level representatives of the private sector from all over the world.
Other international organisations participate as observers and most countries travel with their media delegates drawing to the General Assembly host country more than 1, 000 visitors.
The organisation has 156 member states, seven associates’ members, two permanent observers and more than 400 affiliate member states.
Delegates to the general assembly are drawn from the six regional commissions of the UNWTO from Africa, Europe, Americas, East Asia and the Pacific, South Asia and the Middle East.
So far, Zambia and Zimbabwe have appointed respective professional conference organisers (PCOs) as required by the UNWTO to coordinate various aspects of the preparations for the conference.
For Zambia, The Conference Company of South Africa, with its chief executive officer Nina Freysen-Pretorius, was contracted recently to coordinate issues of the conference venue, accommodation as well as food and catering matters.
Ms. Pretorius would further coordinate on-line registration of delegates, plenary meetings, official closing ceremony and other side events which would take place in Livingstone during the conference.
Further, Zambia and Zimbabwe have established a joint website (www.unwtoga2013.org) where UNWTO General Assembly delegates and other visitors can access more information on both sides of the Victoria Falls.
The website has specific information on what UNWTO delegates should expect when they are in Zambia and Zimbabwe in terms of accommodation, wildlife, health and several other tourism products.
The joint website provides information on where delegates should stay, what they should eat, what they should see and what they should do when they are in Livingstone and Victoria Falls towns.
“The Republic of Zambia and The Republic of Zimbabwe welcomes you to its prestigious event on the co-hosting of the 20th Session of the UNWTO General Assembly to be held in Livingstone and Victoria Falls Towns respectively from 24th to 29th August, 2013. The two host towns are located around one of the Seven Natural Wonders of the World – The mighty Victoria Falls,” the website reads on its home page. It further states that the two countries are located in the Southern African region, which is one of the most beautiful, exotic, diverse and unique destinations in the world.
“Zambia and Zimbabwe, with its varied tapestry of landscapes, has something for every traveler, be it business, conferences, adventure, wildlife, culture or cuisine.
Wherever you decide to visit, you will encounter the warmth and spirit of the African people,” the website states.
Further, the website shows a list of seven official hotels and lodges for the UNWTO conference in Livingstone and Victoria Falls town.
For Livingstone, the seven official hotels and lodges are Royal Livingstone Hotel, Zambezi Sun Hotel, Chrismar Hotel, Protea Hotel, Court Yard Hotel, David Livingstone Safari Lodge and Spar and Fallsway Lodge.
Similarly, Victoria Falls town in Zimbabwe has a list of seven official hotels displayed on the same website.
Lodges and hotels outside the enlisted list would still attract tourists and other unofficial guests who would visit the two towns during the global tourism summit.
A number of stand-alone restaurants have been selected as official eating places within Livingstone to supplement the existing hotel restaurants.
Some of the restaurants include Squires, Ocean Basket, Armadillo Oriental and Grill, Sizzler, Golden Leaf, Café Zambezi, The Greens Inn, Chinese Cuisine, The Spot, Olga’s Italian and Zig Zag, among others.
The website also has a column for online registration where official delegates to the UNWTO conference can register and accredit online.
So far, the on-line registration for official UNWTO delegates has started and it will end on July 24, 2013.
|Fast facts about the UNWTO Assembly:|
|Dates||24 to 29 August 2013|
|Venue||Victoria Falls and Livingstone|
|How often is it held||Every 2 years|
|UNWTO membership||156 members states, 7 associate members, 2 permanent observers, more than 400 affiliate members|
|On-line registration for delegates ends||24 July 2013|
In order to facilitate easy entry into the host countries by delegates, the two host counties have agreed to waive regular visa application requirements for all UNWTO delegates.
Gratis visas would be issued to all delegates upon arrival.
The Immigration Contact Persons in Zambia and Zimbabwe would issue travel and entry facilitation letters only to those delegates who ordinarily apply for visas prior to travelling to the two countries.
The list of these countries has been posted on the joint website.
By offering gratis visas, it implies that there would be no border between Zambia and Zimbabwe for official delegates to the UNWTO conference.
On the ground in Livingstone, preparations have so far intensified with almost all corners of Zambia’s tourist capital either witnessing some form of construction works or upgrading of several infrastructure daily.
On May 23, 2013, Ms. Masebo as well as officials from her ministry and Zambia Tourism Board (ZTB) met several ambassadors and diplomats accredited to Zambia in Livingstone to brief them on preparations for the UNWTO General Conference.
Chief Mukuni of Kazungula District in Southern Province, Southern Province Permanent Secretary Bernard Namachila, Ministry of Tourism and Arts and Zambia Tourism Board (ZTB) officials, Livingstone District Commissioner Omar Munsanje, Livingstone tourism operators, political parties’ representatives, media houses and the local community attended the meeting.
Speaking at Zambezi Sun Hotel in Livingstone, Ms. Masebo urged all ambassadors and diplomats accredited to Zambia to extend an invitation to their country’s UNWTO representatives.
Ms. Masebo also asked UNWTO affiliate organisations to bring their families and friends along so that they could celebrate with Zambia and Zimbabwe, a truly African General Assembly in the African spirit.
She further acknowledged the overwhelming enthusiasm and support from the citizenry and from private sector companies that were coming on board to partner with the Government to prepare for the event.
Ms. Masebo announced that online registration and accreditation for official delegates to the August 2013 UNWTO conference had started.
She said the registration and accreditation for official delegates to the UNWTO conference was currently being carried out through a Zambia/Zimbabwean joint website (www.unwtoga2013.org).
Ms. Masebo said the participation form was also available on the same website and that participants should complete online registration and accreditation process before Wednesday July 24, 2013 after which online registration and accreditation would be closed.
“I wish to announce that the registration and accreditation for delegates to the 2013 UNWTO General Assembly has started online.
It is being carried on online through the joint website and if you want to register today, you can do so,” Ms. Masebo said.
She also said invitations to the August 2013 General Assembly had already been sent to all UNWTO member countries.
Zimbabwe Minister of Tourism and Hospitality Walter Mzembi, Ms. Masebo and Mr. Rifai signed the invitation letters.
Ms. Masebo also said a world class temporal conference structure would be assembled outside the grounds of Royal Livingstone Hotel on the banks of Zambezi River to house UNWTO meetings.
Ms. Masebo said the Government had already given a contract to a renowned South African company known as Gear House to assemble the conference structure. The facility, which would accommodate 1, 000 delegates during UNWTO sessions, would supplement existing facilities at Zambezi Sun Hotel.
“We are looking at delegates appreciating the view of Zambezi River being an African company.
Gear House is supposed to hand over the temporal conference structure to Government within five days before August 24, this year,” he said.
Ms. Masebo also said the Government planned to construct a world-class permanent convention centre in Livingstone in the long term.
“This permanent facility would be a legacy structure for the UNWTO conference.
We already identified a site where it will be constructed.
I am happy to say that we will soon be floating the tender for construction of a permanent convention centre in Livingstone and this project will be anchored on the concept of Public Private Partnership (PPP),” she said.
Ms. Masebo further said Sylva Professional Catering in Lusaka had been invited to provide traditional African foods during the UNWTO conference to enable delegates sample African cuisine.
She presented a status report on several infrastructural projects under construction in Livingstone and outlined a number of facilities being rehabilitated to prepare for the conference.
Ms. Masebo also presented the official programme for the UNWTO General Assembly in Livingstone and Victoria Falls town. According to the agreed programme, both Zambia and Zimbabwe would host shared equal number of UNWTO meetings.
Zambia and Zimbabwe would also host technical tours for UNWTO delegates which would include a visit to communities living in the Kavango-Zambezi Transfrontier Conservation Area (KAZA TFCA).
Cultural ceremonies, arts and musical shows have also been lined up to be held continuously during the General Assembly, while tour packages would be held within the town of Livingstone and other parts of Zambia. The official opening of the UNWTO General Assembly would be held in Zimbabwe and co-hosted by President Sata and President Mugabe, while the official closure of the ceremony would be held in Zambia.
Zimbabwe High Commissioner to Zambia Lovemore Muzemo said the diplomats were truly happy to be given the detailed preparations for the UNWTO General Assembly.
Mr. Muzemo, who spoke on behalf of other diplomats, said diplomats were wishing Zambia and Zimbabwe all the best as they co-hosted the UNWTO conference because the event would benefit the region and African continent.
United States of America Ambassador to Zambia Mark Storella thanked Ms. Masebo for briefing diplomats on the preparations for the UNWTO conference and that Victoria Falls was an unbelievable destination.
“Your concept of presenting Victoria Falls between Zambia and Zimbabwe as a destination is a right one as it brings two countries together. I am pleased that several roads are being upgraded in Livingstone and I only hope that you will complete the new terminal building at Harry Mwaanga Nkumbula International Airport,” he said.
Ambassador Storella also urged Ms. Masebo to circulate her detailed presentation to embassies and high commissions accredited to Zambia so that they inform their home countries on preparations for the UNWTO General Assembly. Some diplomats wanted to find out the procedures and costs required for delegates from their respective countries to host exhibitions during the conference.
Others wanted to know the current position of Zambia regarding the yellow fever requirement for travelers passing through South Africa. In her response, Ms Masebo said countries would be allowed to sponsor exhibitions and that those interested should contact the host countries in advance.
On the yellow fever requirement, Ms. Masebo said Zambia and the World Health Organisation (WHO) were currently conducting tests to ascertain the matter and that the results would be known by the end of June this year.
Ms. Masebo said Zambia had no yellow fever cases and was hopeful that WHO would make a major pronouncement by June to clear the matter.
She said Kenya Airways would launch its direct flights to Livingstone in June this year which would help to solve the yellow fever requirement as travelers passing through Kenya would come to Zambia directly without any yellow fever vaccination.
“We want to encourage more international direct flight flights to Livingstone where there will be no yellow fever requirement. As you may be aware, yellow fever requirement is only required when one is using the Zambia – South Africa route,” she said.
Zambia Tourism Board (ZTB) managing director Felix Chaila said about 90 per cent of international airlines fly directly to Lusaka from other countries without any yellow fever requirement.
Ms. Pretorius, who is Zambia’s Professional Conference Organiser, said more than 500 rooms had already been secured in Livingstone in readiness for the August 2013 UNWTO General Assembly.
Indeed signs are everywhere that both Zambia and Zimbabwe are getting ready to co-host the UNWTO conference.
By: Andrew Miti
Date: 30 May 2013