Monday, February 6, 2012

Convention Center for Victoria Falls

In order to prepare for the UN World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) in 2013, the Zimbabwe government plans to construct a Convention Centre in Victoria Falls town. The center will seat between 3,000-5,000 people, have committee rooms, a golf course, and two hotels. This was the story in one of the newspapers this week.
According to the article, the piece of land being proposed for the construction of the convention center covers an area of about 1,000 hectares. It is located six kilometers south of Victoria Falls town. It starts just after Musue River to the south of the town extending to about five kilometers southwards towards Victoria Falls airport, said the Ministry of Tourism and Hospitality. This could put the site west of the Bulawayo road, just north of Stanley and Livingstone Lodge.
This story is interesting for several reasons. The first one is that the government of Zambia is also considering building a Conference Center in Livingstone for the UNWTO meeting. The other reason it is interesting, is because the private sector in Victoria Falls town stated that they were unwilling to invest in any such building development, as it was economically unviable at this present time. The private sector in Livingstone is also unwilling to go to any investment for the meeting for precisely the same reason. One can only guess that both convention centers would be built and funded by the Chinese.
All this points to the fact that there is not much discussion going on between the two governments of Zambia and Zimbabwe. The UNWTO only needs one conference facility and doubtfully will need more hotels. A walk around Victoria Falls town hotels will show the emptiness of many accommodation facilities. Only those hotels who work tirelessly on their marketing are managing to fill their rooms.
Discussing the building of a conference facility in Livingstone, I was told that Livingstone will need such a facility for the future as it intends to attract thousands of tourists. With the future uncertain since much of the world still in recession and predictions stating that it will go on for many years, this intention may be extremely hopeful.
Zimbabwe has a broken infrastructure throughout the country, with water and sewage systems not working, power stations collapsing, roads deteriorating, etc. Victoria Falls town is an island on the edge of Zimbabwe, which functions well, but the rest of the country is in a state of collapse. Surely if the government is to spend money, it should be spent on basic facilities for the people.