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Zimbabwe discusses opening 'Disneyland in Africa'

Big dreams: Zimbabwe's tourism and hospitality minister discussed a planned $300 million theme park near the iconic Victoria Falls.

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Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe, 88, in Victoria Falls at the ceremony announcing that Zimbabwe and Zambia will co-host the UN World Tourism Organization General Assembly in August, 2013. (Joseph Mwenda/AFP/Getty Images)

There's no Disneyland in Africa, but if comments from Zimbabwe's tourism and hospitality minister are any indication, a big-time theme park along those lines may be in the works for an area near the iconic Victoria Falls.

Zambia and Zimbabwe are co-hosting this year's UN World Tourism Organization summit at a venue near the falls — an event prompting a big announcement from Zimbabwe's tourism top brass.

Read more from GlobalPost: South America rises as top world tourism destination 

Walter Mzembi disclosed plans for a $300 million theme park near Victoria Falls, which he described as a "Disneyland in Africa," complete with entertainment facilities, banks, casinos, and other amenities, the Guardian wrote. 

"We have reserved 1,200 hectares of land closer to Victoria Falls international airport to do hotels and convention centers," Mzembi told state-run New Ziana, according to the Telegraph. 

"We want to create a free zone with a banking center where even people who do not necessarily live in Zimbabwe can open bank accounts," he added.

Others were less gung-ho about the ambitious idea to bring Western-style theme park entertainment to the politically unstable region. 

“Zimbabwe is a country that often struggles to do the basic things it needs to do and this cannot be a sensible suggestion,” Chris McIntyre, managing director of specialist tour operator Expert Africa, told the Telegraph about the scheme, adding that tourists prefer authenticity to a canned theme park experience. 

The six-day UNWTO summit is being attended by 155 nations — mostly developing countries attempting to beef up their tourism sectors. 

During opening dinner celebrations, Zimbabwe President Robert Mugabe extolled his nation as "a safe and secure destination for world tourists," according to the Associated Press, while at the same time bemoaning Western nations  "demonic tendencies" towards him and his oft-controversial leadership. 

http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/regions/africa/zimbabwe/130827/zimbabwe-discusses-opening-disneyland-africa