via Jehovah’s Witnesses convention to boost tourism May 7, 2014 NewsDay
AN ESTIMATED 60 000 Jehovah’s Witnesses — including 3 000 international delegates from the United States, Germany and Brazil — are expected to converge at the National Sports Stadium (NSS) — Africa’s only International Convention in Harare in Zimbabwe.
The International Convention, the most significant of its kind, will bring major economic impact to Zimbabwe, including an estimated 20 000 room nights and millions of dollars in overall economic impact.
This comes at a time Zimbabwe and Zambia co-hosted the global tourism community last year in Victoria Falls for the 20th Session of the United Nations World Tourism Organisation general assembly.
Fifteen major hotels in and around Harare, and 30 lodges as well as car hire firms are fully booked for the 10-day period and delegates are booked for excursions in major tourist attraction areas before and after the religious event.
Tourism and Hospitality Industry minister Walter Mzembi recently said his ministry’s thrust this year was to promote religious tourism to boost arrival receipts.
Jehovah’s Witnesses spokesperson John Hunguka yesterday said the foreign delegates would also be drawn from Kenya and Zambia, including thousands of missionaries, who have served in many parts of the world and locally.
“This is the first time that Zimbabwe is hosting this kind of gathering, which is different from the annual conventions that we normally hold in different regions of the country. The idea of such gatherings is to strengthen our international brotherhood. In fact we are happy the government is supporting us in our arrangements,” he said.
The convention, Hunguka said, would be held under the theme Keep Seeking First God’s Kingdom’and topics to be covered would include family matters — how husbands and wives can treat each other better. Between August 22-24, there will also be a symposium dealing with other family issues including three dramas from for all the three days, titled Do not give the Devil an Opportunity, a sound drama — Jehovah the Only God and a full costume drama Not one Word has Failed based in the Bible book of Joshua to the Israelites.
“This will be our focus this year. It’s a very important theme,” Hunguka told a Press conference in Harare yesterday.
He said there were grateful to the government for giving them the greenlight to hold the conference in the country and the NSS was the only suitable venue for the programme.
“We believe it’s the only facility in the country with proper standards for people to feel comfortable,” he said.
The convention, Hunguka added, would be simultaneously conducted in different languages such as Zimbabwe Sign Language, Shona, Ndebele, Chinese and English among others to allow people from all walks of life to benefit from the programme and access the Truth. Hunguka said there has been a notable increase in the number of Chinese nationals in the country who had joined the organisation hence their inclusion in the programme. He disclosed that there were four Chinese congregations in the country in Harare, Mutare, Gweru and Bulawayo including other groups dotted around the country.
The spokesperson encouraged all Jehovah’s Witnesses members to make arrangements to attend the international programme and strengthen their brotherhood together with foreign visitors.
However, a week after the international convention, the organisation will convene regional conventions in Mutare, Gweru and Bulawayo among others to cater for those who would have failed to travel to Harare.
Eight other international conventions will be held in Athens, Greece; Frankfurt, Germany; London, England; Seoul, South Korea; Melbourne, Australia; Mexico City, Mexico; Quito, Ecuador next year and the United States including Honolulu, Hawaii, from June through November 2014.
There are over seven million Jehovah’s Witnesses worldwide and about 42 000 are in Zimbabwe.