Livingstone Hotels fully-booked ahead of UNWTO

waterfront lodge - Livingstone, Zambia July 2013 Pre-UNWTO in Pictures

A FEW years back, visitors travelling to Livingstone did not have to panic about finding accommodation in the resort city. It was there in abundance for the taking.
Today the story is different; you have to book in advance for you to be assured of bed space, sometimes up to a month ahead.
Minister of Tourism and Arts Sylvia Masebo said the demand for accommodation in Livingstone has increased a week before Zambia co-hosts the prestigious United Nations World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO) general assembly with Zimbabwe.
Ms Masebo said the eight official hotels selected to offer accommodation to delegates attending the general assembly are fully booked.
“There is practically no room in the official UNWTO designated hotels,” Ms Masebo said.
The hotels include Royal Livingstone, Zambezi Sun, David Livingstone Safari Lodge and Spa, Protea, Courtyard, Chrismar and Fallsway Lodge and Fairmount.
In the last two weeks, accommodation in all hotels in Livingstone has been a challenge as the tourist capital has become a hive of activities hosting a number of events such as meetings for accountants, lawyers and other professional bodies.
The average price of a room at a lodge or hotel is about K250 to K1,500 respectively and even higher in 5-star hotels.
Apart from the UNWTO general assembly which starts this Saturday, the city will also host the second Zambia International Investment Forum whose objective is to promote and showcase investment opportunities that exist in Zambia.
The forum will bring together senior Government officials, local and international cooperating partners as well as the private sector.
The investment meeting, organised by the Ministry of Commerce, Trade and Industry and the Zambia Development Agency, will take place from tomorrow to Wednesday and is expected to attract more than 350 foreign and local participants.
Livingstone Tourism Association chairperson Active Monze said the tourist capital will never be the same after hosting the UNWTO general assembly.
Mr Monze said the hosting of the conference has brought a lot of benefits for Livingstone, which include new roads, an intercity bus terminus, a modern market and a new terminal at Harry Mwaanga Nkumbula International Airport while the city has also enjoyed a waiver on importation of vehicles.
He said lodge owners have improved on their infrastructure and look forward to the growth of the city even after the UNWTO conference.
“Right now the bed space in all the lodges is taken up but this only happens once in a while like every Easter Holiday,” he said.
And Livingstone Chamber of Commerce and Industry chairperson Miles Daka said to address the shortage in Livingstone, there is need to promote community-based tourism in rural areas where guests can access bed space.
To keep the city alive after the conference, Mr Daka said the chamber has lined up a number of economic activities and plans to lobby Government to form a diversification task force to boost activities in the city.
Mr Daka said the chamber will undertake a tour of Sweden and Singapore to market Livingstone’s economic potential to investors.
He also called on Government to extend Statutory Instrument (SI) No. 69 on importation of new vehicles and other peripherals that go with the hospitality industry. The SI expires this December.