By BRIAN HATYOKA –
GOVERNMENT is planning to construct an ultra-modern convention centre of international standards in Livingstone.
Foreign Affairs Minister Harry Kalaba said the move was aimed at meeting increasing demand for conference and meeting facilities in the tourist capital.
He said the Government had realised that Livingstone was a strategic place, hence plans were underway to establish the ultramodern conference facility with an international edge to service such conferences and other gatherings.
He was speaking in an interview in Livingstone after attending the African Union (AU) Committee of 10 (C-10) Heads of State Summit.
“We have realised that Livingstone is very strategic, we have started planning to see how we can put an ultramodern conference facility with an international edge to service big gatherings,” he said.
Mr Kalaba said Zambia would be hosting the AU summit in 2022 and preparations had already started.
“One of the issues we are looking at, as we are planning for the AU summit in 2022, is to put up an ultramodern conference centre to host 53 Heads of State.
“We are way ahead of schedule and we are working hard on this not only for Livingstone but in other parts such as Lusaka and provincial capitals,” he said.
Mr Kalaba said Livingstone would have another summit on Land of Developing Countries (LODC) from June 2 to 4, this year to be attended by Foreign Affairs ministers.
“Zambia is chairing the LODC and President Lungu will be here in Livingstone to open this meeting,” Mr Kalaba said.
The Meetings, Incentives, Conferences and Exhibitions (MICE) industry is one of the fastest growing segments of the tourism base.
It is also characterised by the highest spending business travellers, six times more than the leisure tourists.
Globally, the MICE segment caters for about 400, 000 events annually across the globe with a total of about $ 280 billion out of which about 14, 000 are meetings, conferences, conventions and congresses involving professional associations, corporate bodies, religious groups and inter-governmental bodies.
In Zambia, the MICE Industry is still relatively new and underdeveloped although efforts are currently underway to develop the sector.
Most tourism enterprises are now investing in conference rooms to capture this business segment which assures high room occupancy rates and increased consumption of food and beverages among others.