This year's SADC Summit of Heads of State and Government to be hosted by Zimbabwe from August 17-18 has been highly subscribed, with some countries intending to bring more than 100 delegates, Zimbabwe Tourism Authority CEO Mr Karikoga Kaseke has said.
As a result, some SADC countries have failed to get accommodation in Victoria Falls for some of their delegates. Mr Kaseke said the majority of Zimbabweans who will be attending the summit would be staying in Hwange, some 100 kilometres away.
Landlords have also availed their houses to accommodate delegates, which will see them earning extra money.
In an interview on Wednesday, Mr Kaseke said the tourism sector in the resort town and surrounding areas would benefit immensely from the summit. "The hotels are full," he said. So far, South Africa does not have accommodation for 85 rooms, Tanzania does not have accommodation for 20 rooms, Botswana does not have accommodation for 15 rooms. The countries that are coming, are coming with huge numbers. Even those with good private houses here have also been taken and Hwange is full as well."
Mr Kaseke said Zimbabwe's tourism sector benefited greatly from co-hosting with Zambia the United Nations World Trade Organisation General Assembly in August last year and the Routes Africa 2014 conference in June. "So, it's good, we must push more and more not only in Victoria Falls, even in Bulawayo and Harare," he said. "This is the opportunity that we have as Zimbabwe to attract a lot of business tourism. Next week we are also having in Harare an international convention for the Jehovah's Witness which has taken Harare by storm. Every hotel and lodge in Harare is fully booked, so we need to have these types of conferences as a country."
Government has already indicated that it expects 450 delegates to attend the SADC Summit, with 700 guests expected to grace the opening and closing sessions.
The summit will be held under the theme: "SADC Strategy for Economic Transformation: Leveraging the Region's Diverse Resources for Sustainable Economic and Social Development through Beneficiation and Value Addition".
The official opening of the Summit of the Heads of State and Government will take place on August 17 before a banquet where superstar Oliver Mtukudzi is expected to serenade the delegates.
Meanwhile, Government has put the cost of hosting the 34th SADC Summit at between US$2 million and US$4 million, Foreign Affairs Minister Cde Simbarashe Mumbengegwi has said.
He said this while addressing journalists after briefing 13 ambassadors from Sadc countries on the progress of summit preparations at his Munhumutapa offices yesterday afternoon.
Minister Mumbengegwi said the equipment and infrastructure acquired would remain national assets and should, therefore, not be viewed as a waste of resources.
Cde Mumbengegwi paid tribute to the private sector for its co-operation and support to ensure that the summit was a resounding success. "Our private sector has been absolutely excellent. The extent they have come in to support this effort is impressive indeed and I would like to publicly express Government's appreciation," he said.
Source: Vic Falls Hotels Fully Booked for Summitt - AllAfrica (08/08/14)