12 Jul 2013 11:19

HARARE, Zimbabwe, July 5 (Bernama) -- Tourism and Hospitality Industry minister engineer Walter Mzembi on Thursday said a permanent structure was being constructed in Victoria Falls for use as the conventional centre for the United Nations World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO) general assembly.

Mzembi was reacting to reports that his Ministry had floated tenders to supply and install semi-permanent marquee and equipment for the UNWTO general assembly structure, Zimbabwe's news agency, New Ziana, reported.

A total of US$1 billion was needed to construct the centre, a hotel and a shopping mall ahead of the summit.

In the 2012 budget, Treasury only allocated US$1 million for construction of the 4,000-seater conference centre, which was described as a drop in the ocean.

“Those tenders are just administrative issues being published. A permanent structure is currently being constructed in Vic Falls and it is progressing well,” said Mzembi.

The government last year approved construction of a semi-permanent aluminum glass fabrication conference centre structure with a lifespan of 30 years and capacity of more than 1,000 delegates at African Sun Limited’s Elephant Hills resort and set it as the main centre for the assembly.

Zimbabwe will be co-hosting the biennial global tourism event with Zambia in August this year.

The event, to be attended by delegates from 186 countries, will be the largest gathering of countries in Zimbabwe since the Commonwealth Heads of State and Government Meeting held in the resort town, about two decades ago.