BULAWAYO – Zimbabwe Tourism Authority (ZTA) chief executive Karikoga Kaseke says just about 1 000 official guests are expected for the United Nations World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO) general assembly contrary to government figures of 4 000.
The latest figures come after the ZTA boss last month had stated 2 000 guest would grace the tourism event held once every two years and brings together key tourism players including heads of ministries from various governments across the world.
“My former boss, Sylvester Maunganidze (former Tourism permanent secretary), said we must prepare for about 4 000 official guests and I do not know where he got that figure from,” said Kaseke.
“Korea, which last had the highest of visitors, had about 670 official guests. So when Maunganidze said we should prepare for 4 000 official guests may be he had better reasons why he said that but let us not spread the lie that 4 000 guests will arrive for the conference, there is nothing of that sort. I do not know where Maunganidze plucked that number from,” he said.
Kaseke said the figures touted by government had never been achieved in the last 19 general assemblies.
“If you see about 600 people only coming for the event you are going to blame us for not properly marketing the event but even if we have the resources to market the event we are not going to receive the 4 000 guests,” he said.
“The highest number of official guests that we can pull is in the range of between 900 and 1 000 and surpass Korea by 300 guests,” said Kaseke.
He added that those 1000 official visitors are going to be shared between Zimbabwe and Zambia.
Maunganidze was redeployed after he exposed Zimbabwe’s state of unpreparedness to co-host the UNWTO by revealing how his ministry had embellished its capability through video promotions to win the bid.
Kaseke said there was no need to panic about the accommodation as Victoria Falls currently had about 2 000 rooms that could cope with all the anticipated guests.
“There is no need for hoteliers to be building an extra room as there are enough rooms in the country,” he said.
He said that about 1 000 unofficial guests were going to attend making a total of total 2 000 visitors.
ZTA official said the preparations for the event were going on well and said the country was well on track.
“The preparations are going on very well and recently UNWTO came into the country and assess and they were impressed with the progress so far,” he said.