UNWTO: Security of visitors assured

UNWTO Platform to market Zambia

TODAY is exactly one week before the co-hosting of the 20th session of the 2013 United Nations World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO) General Assembly.
The much-awaited and prestigious conference would be co-hosted in Livingstone city in Zambia and Victoria Falls town in Zimbabwe from August 24 to 29, 2013.
A number of issues have already been discussed and highlighted on this column in terms of Livingstone and Zambia’s preparedness to co-host the prestigious global tourism event.
Some issues already discussed include the country’s vast tourism products, infrastructural project, upgrading activities, logistical preparations, cleanliness, health, official venues, visas, airlines, entertainment, exhibitions, sensitisaton campaigns as well as mobile phones and internet connectivity, among others.
By and large, the City of Livingstone and Zambia in general have clearly made significant progress to prepare for the UNWTO conference.
This week, the focus is on the City’s preparedness regarding security and protocol matters during the UNWTO General Assembly.
During this period, the Zambia Police Service as well as defence and other security wings of Zambia would have joint operations to provide maximum security to delegates and other visitors in the city.
The defence and security wings would also work closely with their counterparts from Zimbabwe to provide security.
So far, 120 police officers from southern province and western province have been trained in the areas of tourism policing, protocol and etiquette, organised crime, human rights and other security fields in readiness for the UNWTO conference.
The officers have also been trained on how to curb sophisticated crimes such as terrorism.
Further, 237 Livingstone residents recently graduated as Neighbourhood Watch Security officers to assist the defence and security wings to curb crime in various communities during and beyond the 20th session of the UNWTO General Assembly next week.
The courses included organisational structure and police administration, witness identification, security education, human rights, arresting of offenders, diplomatic immunity, corrupt practices, community policing, human-animal conflict, drug trafficking, cross-border poaching, evidence, traffic management, foot patrols and physical training in terms of drills.
Participants during the training included 203 Livingstone residents from all 17 wards and 34 council police from Livingstone City Council.
The Ministry of Tourism and Arts UNWTO secretariat, Zambia Police Service, Drug Enforcement Commission (DEC), Immigration Department, Zambia Wildlife Authority (ZAWA), Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC), Livingstone City Council and Office of the President supported the training.
According to Southern Province commissioner of Police Charity Katanga, Livingstone was very safe to all UNWTO delegates and other ordinary visitors.
Ms Katanga said more than 500 plain and uniformed police officers as well as other defence and security wings would be on duty to provide security during the UNWTO conference.
In an interview in Livingstone, Ms Katanga said Zambia and Livingstone in particular was ready to provide maximum security and protocol services to delegates during the UNWTO general Assembly.
Ms Katanga said the police would work closely with other security and security wings such as DEC, Special Division and ZAWA among others to safeguard delegates during the UNWTO conference.
She said all the seven official hotels, lodges, eating places and other venues would be safeguarded during the UNWTO conference.
The seven official hotels are Royal Livingstone Hotel (five star), David Livingstone Safari Lodge and Spa (four-star), Zambezi Sun Hotel (three-star), Protea Hotel (three-star), Courtyard Hotel Victoria Falls (three-star), Chrismar Hotel (three-star) and Fallsway Lodge (three-star).
Ms Katanga said Sun International Zambia premises, which would be the official venue for the UNWTO General Assembly deliberations on the Zambian side, would be highly secured.
“We have drawn up the manpower to be used from local police officers as well as from defence and other security officers from Lusaka. All places of entry to Livingstone such as Harry Mwaanga Nkumbula International Airport, Katima Mulilo Border Post, Kazungula Border and Victoria Falls Border would have security gadgets for screening people entering the tourist capital,” Ms Katanga said.
All defence and security wings would be present in all entrance and exit gates to maximise the screening of delegates and visitors.
Ms Katanga also said there would be enough manpower on standby to quell riots or any other public disorder in Livingstone.
She added that the Zambia Police Service and Zimbabwe Police would have joint water patrols along Zambezi River and also hold joint investigations during the UNWTO conference.
She said since UNWTO delegates would be attending meetings on either side of the two countries, the two police bodies would also have joint communication systems from either side to enhance security.
“During UNWTO conference, there will be no border per se between Livingstone in Zambia and Victoria Falls town in Zimbabwe because delegates will be freely moving from one town to another.
“We have put in a communication system in place with our counterparts in Zimbabwe to ensure that delegates are safeguarded,” she said.
In terms of traffic, Ms Katanga said there would be controlled traffic to be jointly done with the Zimbabwe Police.
“We will reduce a lot of traffic coming in from Victoria Falls border since that area will be the official venue for the UNWTO General Assembly.
“We have been holding meetings with Zimbabwe police and other security wings to ensure that we work jointly,” she said.
And speaking recently at Livingstone Lodge during the graduation ceremony for 237 Neighbourhood Watch Security Officers, Tourism and Arts Minister Sylvia Masebo said it was important to assure the whole world that Livingstone was a safe destination to visit.
Ms Masebo said security was a major concern for everybody and called for curbing of all forms of crimes including petty offences like stealing of phones.
She urged the general public to be alert and inform the police and other security wings of any information about criminals during and after the UNWTO conference.
“Safety and security is at the heart of the tourism industry. Tourism depends on security and any tourism destination cannot succeed without good security and peace,” Ms Masebo said.
She said Livingstone had iconic sites like the mighty Victoria Falls, hence tourism could not be developed into its full potential if there was no peace and security.
Ms Masebo said her ministry was looking at building a tourism University as an attempt to address the shortfall of qualified manpower in the tourism sector.
She said one of the courses to be offered would be on tourism policing to address issues of crime such as child abuse, theft, human tracking and drug abuse among others.
And speaking at the same function, Ms Katanga urged the graduating officers to bring results by helping to make Livingstone a crime-free city.
Ms Katanga also urged the officers to exercise human rights in their execution of duty as human rights were a cornerstone in any law enforcement.
“I can loosely say these officers have become mini-police officers with the knowledge that they have acquired. Police officers don’t operate in a vacuum as certain information we need about criminals can come from members of the public such as these graduating officers,” she said.
Ms Katanga said the police had waived the K50 which each participant was supposed to contribute and hence contributing about K10, 000 towards the exercise.
“All graduating students were screened at Police Headquarters in Lusaka and they have no criminal record. They are going out as clean persons and we look forward to some of them joining the regular police structure,” she said.
Livingstone Town Clerk Vivian Chikoti urged the Ministry of Tourism and Arts to consider extending the training of neighbourhood security offices to other districts so that the nation benefits.
“We will have a community of Livingstone free from crime and we hope the knowledge gained can be used beyond the UNWTO conference,” Ms Chikoti said.
It is now clear that the security and protocol aspect of the UNWTO General Assembly is guaranteed.
Delegates and other visitors travelling to Livingstone can be assured that their stay in Zambia’s tourist capital during the UNWTO conference and beyond will be highly safeguarded.