UNWTO ends, but Livingstone rebirth begins!

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Elephants Crossing river

THE beat may have officially ended with the closing of the United Nations World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO) general assembly slated for later last evening, here, but the legacy of the resort town is just beginning and may live on for generations to come.
The closing was graced yet again by Presidents Sata and Robert Mugabe of Zimbabwe.
Before Zambia and Zimbabwe won the right to co-host the premier tourism event, few people knew about the existence of this UN specialised agency.
But not anymore, at least in Zambia, as more people around the globe get to know about not only the UN agency but the ‘smoke that thunders’ or Musi-o-tunya in a bigger way than ever before.
For the people of Livingstone, it is difficult to find someone who has not been touched remotely or directly by the meeting – right from the street vendor to the five-star hotel down the Victoria Falls.
“I usually sell about 40 papers of the Zambia Daily Mail newspaper on an average day but during the UNWTO general assembly, I have been selling over 60 copies… I wish it (general assembly) could have gone for over a week,” Donwell Kaumba, a newspaper vendor said.
Misheck Phiri, a cobbler at the Green Market may not have had a surge in business but is nonetheless happy with the infrastructure development the city has seen in the last few months.
Like one resident said, there is a breath of fresh air in the city, thanks in large measure to the relocation of street vendors, rehabilitated roads and the street lights.
“I hope we can maintain this same standard… the city is looking nice, especially at night. We didn’t realise how much the vendors were affecting life in town… it was only after they were removed that we noticed the change. All of a sudden, we had real fresh air,” the resident, who has lived in the city for three years now, said.
Namaambo Kalyanga, a great 12 pupil at St Mary’s Secondary School, says she is happy that the country was able to host the event, mainly because it has led to infrastructure development Livingstone.
Livingstone town, located 10km north of the mighty Victoria Falls, has emerged from its slumber to become a lively place where the colonial past is infused with contemporary Zambian culture.
It still has some charming public buildings with wide steps, columned entrances, white facades or wooden verandas. Examples of Edwardian and Cape Dutch architecture can be found in many buildings, particularly churches, down the narrow streets.
The business district lies on the town’s principle thoroughfare, Mosi-o-Tunya Road.
A delegate to the general assembly Sooji Lee from South Korea, which hosted the 2011 UNWTO general assembly, believes the hosting of the assembly by the two countries is likely to increase the inflow of tourists, which will lead to an improvement in the country’s revenue base which should make life better for many citizens.
“After we hosted the assembly in 2011, the flow of tourists in our country sky rocketed and you should expect something similar,” he said.
But Evelyn Bwalya, a curio trader at the Mukuni curio market has not seen any major change in her business fortunes but is hoping they will take a different turn when the delegates wind up their official programme tomorrow.
The official closing may have been held at the Royal Livingstone Hotel yesterday but the beat is still on!

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