Monday, February 11, 2013

Bad UNWTO preps could cost Zambia, says Scott

Bad UNWTO preps could cost Zambia, says Scott
By Edwin Mbulo
Mon 11 Feb. 2013, 14:30 CAT

ZAMBIA could find itself abandoned by tourists if it does a bad job on preparations for the August UNWTO General Assembly, says Vice-President Dr Guy Scott.

And tourism and arts minister Sylvia Masebo says there is progress in the preparations ahead of the indaba to be co-hosted with Zimbabwe's Victoria Falls town.

Speaking when he addressed the business community at Chrismar Hotel in Livingstone, Vice-President Scott told them not to expect huge profits during the event but that its aftershocks could be of great business help.

"I think if we do collectively a good job, it may raise you more money in future as your reputation goes up. If we do a bad job, we may find ourselves abandoned by the world discerning tourists and make Zambia go viral and hurt us," Vice-President Scott said.

He said negative reporting especially on the social networks such as Facebook could hurt Zambia as the international community was very sensitive especially on issues of poaching and crime.

"There was one photograph of one dead elephant from Kafue National Park which was put on Facebook and it was read by millions of people around the world. The response was very negative, only after (Sylvia) Masebo's statement that hunting had been suspended that there was more publicity and attention on the Internet than that photograph of that elephant. These days you have to be more careful on public relations.

It's not just a matter of few daily papers; people are really hot on internet business," Vice-President Scott said.

And Masebo said it would be appropriate to fly delegates to the UNWTO straight into Livingstone instead of making a stopover in Lusaka using airlines such as Emirates.

"There are some concerns on infrastructure and the quality of service; we need to give as business people a clean environment. On road infrastructure, we talked to the contractor on the need to speed up works," Masebo said.

She said the government would improve the water infrastructure, build a modern market and intercity bus terminus, public toilets and street lighting.

And Mwape Walumba from Lion Encounter said the business community was willing to assist in the developmental projects but were not being approached.

Benjamin Mibenge, who is chairperson of the Wildlife and Conservation Society of Zambia (WCSZ) Livingstone chapter, caused laughter when he said there was a very big billboard of Mosi lager welcoming tourists at Harry Mwaanga Nkumbula International Airport instead of one for the Victoria Falls.

"I love Mosi but I think it gives a wrong impression on a country's tourist capital like ours. Why can't we have breweries sponsor a billboard which contains the Victoria Falls? That is why our colleagues from Zimbabwe claim that Victoria Falls is on their side. Marketing has not been the best. Can these companies help us promote Livingstone?" said Mibenge.

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