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Traders hope UNWTO brings business

CURIO traders in Victoria Falls and surrounding places have expressed optimism that they will record brisk business during the United Nations World Tourism General Assembly (UNWTO) event scheduled for later this month.

Report by Musa Dube

Traders who spoke to Standardcommunity in the resort town last week said the UNWTO meeting was set to bring a new lease of life and turn around the once vibrant tourism sector.

“In the past years, the number of tourists visiting here has significantly decreased,”     said one of the traders, Knowledge Mudenda. “We are hoping that the thousands of visitors that are supposed to come here during the UNWTO, are going to buy our products and boost our business.”

He said business plunged from 2000 up to 2009, due to economic challenges that faced the country. During that period, the number of tourists, who are the main buyers of curios, went down significantly.

“Currently, business is picking up since the inclusive government, but we are hoping that the UNWTO will finally revive our business and pick up to the 1999 levels when we used to sell a lot of products,” added Mudenda.

Another curio trader, Laurence Nyathi, who specialises in selling African traditional bangles, necklaces and many other wood carvings, said his products are on high demand because they are unique.
“We have many unique Zimbabwean products that are in demand by tourists and we are hoping they will buy them during the UNWTO,” he said.

Nyathi said many had already started stocking products in anticipation of a boom in business during the tourism indaba, which will run from August 24 to 29.

There are over 200 traders in the resort town and a tour around the town showed that a number of new curio market buildings and shells were being constructed.

Meanwhile, vendors are hoping to capitalise on the long-forgotten Zimbabwe dollar notes which are being sold by curios vendors to tourists.

A US$100 trillion Zimdollar note goes for between US$5 and US$50, depending on one’s marketing skills.

During the time of the country’s economic crisis, inflation reached 231 million percent as the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe continued to print money.

Zimbabwe won the bid to host the UNWTO general assembly alongside neighbouring Zambia.

Reports say about 3 000 guests are expected to visit the country during the international event.

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