Discover Victoria Falls

Wednesday, 10 August 2016

Zim Hotel occupancy drops 2 percent

Zimbabwe’s average hotel room occupancy rate for the first quarter of 2016 was down at 36 percent from 38 percent recorded during the same period last year. According to the first quarter report released by the Zimbabwe Tourism Authority yesterday, Harare had the highest average room occupancy rate of 53 percent followed by Victoria Falls, Midlands, Mutare/Vumba and Nyanga.The 53 percent for Harare was achieved through promotions on room rates offered by major hotel groups otherwise the occupancies could have been lower.

“These promotions resulted in increased utilisation of accommodation facilities by domestic tourists in Harare more than in other regions. Even with such promotions, Harare experienced a one percent decline in the first Quarter of 2016 compared the same period in 2015,” said ZTA.

“This was attributed to the current harsh economic climate which has resulted in government, private sector and NGO’s implementing austerity measures to reduce operating costs.”

Victoria Falls had the second highest room occupancy rate but experienced a two percentage points decline in the first quarter of 2016. This negative growth was a result of reduced utilisation of accommodation by foreign tourists (the resort town’s occupancy is usually dominated by foreigners).
Compared to other regions Beitbridge recorded four percentage points up from the figure recorded during the same period in 2015.

This was as a result of reduced capacity through the closure of Holiday Inn Express hotel which was the second largest hotel after Beitbridge Rainbow Hotel, contributing 24 percent of hotel rooms in Beitbridge.

This closure resulted in hotel rooms available decreasing, causing the occupancy percentage to increase.

Mutare/Vumba and Masvingo recorded the worst growth of -7 percent each compared to the rest of the regions during the period under review.

This negative growth was attributed to the harsh economic environment prevailing in the country that has adversely affected domestic tourism which is the tourism backbone of these two regions.
On arrivals, South Africa dominated through all of Zimbabwe’s Airports except Victoria Falls, which was dominated by the United States.

US dominated air entry into Victoria Falls and was in the top five at all Airports except Charles Prince while Britain and Ireland made the top five at Harare and Joshua Mqabuko Nkomo International Airports.

“This is further proof of the changing status of UK and Ireland as the leading overseas market for Zimbabwe.”

China was third in arrivals via Harare International Airport (3 405) but recorded low figures via other airports suggesting that Chinese tourists were mainly visiting Zimbabwe on business.
Belgium, Netherlands and Luxembourg arrivals were second dominant via Harare International Airport.

Zimbabwe received totals of 6 774 and 5 124 United States arrivals in January and February respectively through all ports, adding up to 11898 USA arrivals over the two month period, which amounted to 24 percent of the total USA outbound to Africa, over the 2 months period.
“However, of concern is the fact that most of these American tourists entered Zimbabwe from Zambia while a significant number entered Zimbabwe from Botswana.

“Research has shown that prices of goods and services are generally cheaper in Zambia than in Zimbabwe, which could be one of the pull factors for the Americans,” said ZTA.

The Tourism Authority said the visits to Zimbabwe were mostly just to view the Victoria Falls from the best vantage point, which is on the Zimbabwe side, as well as to partake in high adrenalin activities on the Victoria Falls Bridge.

“Observations have also revealed a pattern where tourists are booking in Livingstone, then cross over to Zim for day trips (although these are not included in the compilation of tourist arrival statistics), only to return to Zambia.”

This means that Zimbabwe is being considered as an add-on destination, which raises concerns of why there seems to be a bigger preference for Zambia which offers a similar tourism product to Zimbabwe.

“Once again this calls for Zimbabwe to review prices all round and put in place a competitive pricing model in order to compete effectively with regional competitors in terms attracting overseas tourist as a main destination and increasing the length of stay and total spend by tourists,” said ZTA.

ZTA said given the iconic status of Victoria Falls, arrival trends into the region are quite worrisome in as far as they show massive movement of tourists entering from neighbouring Botswana and Zambia and passing through Zimbabwe.

It is well known that Zimbabwe presents the best viewing side of Victoria Falls, hence urgent interventions are needed to ensure a more even distribution of tourist arrivals with Zimbabwe’s two neighbours and competitors.

Though there was an increase in tourist arrivals into the country, not all of them end up in hotels, many of them especially those from Mainland Africa resort to very cheap sources of accommodation in lodges as well as friends and relatives.

Observations have also shown that many foreign tourists visiting the Victoria Falls are entering through Kazungula and Victoria Falls border posts for single night stays and day trips, largely showing that they are avoiding staying in Zimbabwe.

This means Zimbabwe is a secondary destination to them. If this phenomenon increases ZTA said it will further affect the performance of the sector as Victoria Falls is the hub of foreign tourism. The Tourism Authority said this requires implementation of robust marketing programmes by Zimbabwe in key source markets.

Unfortunately this is going to be very difficult as the authority gets over 90 percent of its funding from tourism levy collected by operators whose businesses are shrinking.

Source: Zim Hotel occupancy drops 2 percent (02/08/16)

Tuesday, 9 August 2016

Elephant kills tourist in Hwange

A local tourist, Stephene Coetzee was trampled to death yesterday by a suspected female elephant in Hwange National Park.

Zimbabwe Parks and Wildlife Management Authority Spokesperson, Caroline Washayamoyo said Coetzee was in company of his brother, Christian and a female friend when the accident happened.

Washayamoyo said the trio, all from Bulawayo, entered Hwange National Park through Sinamatela and had intended to exit through the main camp gate.

It is alleged that six kilometres after Guvalala platform, the trio came across a herd of elephants and the now deceased is alleged to have disembarked from the vehicle to take pictures unbeknown to him that there was yet another elephant which was yet to cross the road.

Washayamoyo added that it is at this point that the female elephant appeared from the blind side attacking and killing Stephen on the spot.

A report was quickly made to the police in Dete and the deceased's body has been taken to Hwange Colliery mortuary for a post mortem.

Elephant kills tourist in Hwange (07/08/16)

Thursday, 4 August 2016

VF Q1 tourist arrivals up 16pc

ZIMBABWE has recorded a 16 percent rise in tourist arrivals during the first quarter of the year to 450 572 after registering 387 557 during the same period last year, statistics from the Zimbabwe Tourism Authority (ZTA) show.

ZTA indicated that all the country’s major source markets reported growth in arrivals, except the Oceania region. The tourism authority said most African source markets saw arrivals rising except for South Africa, Zambia, the Democratic Republic of Congo and Tanzania.

“Arrivals from mainland Africa increased 11 percent to 380 790 from 343 644 in 2015. Most African countries with the exception of South Africa, Zambia, DRC and Tanzania recorded increases during the quarter. South Africa and DRC fell marginally by two percent and four percent respectively,” said ZTA. Zambia and Tanzania fell substantially by 16 percent and 20 percent respectively.

“European arrivals into Zimbabwe rose by 28 percent to 27 433 from 21 496 in 2015. Major European countries (Benelux, France, Germany, Spain, Austria) recorded increases except for Britain and Ireland that fell by 10 percent. The fringe European markets also registered decreases, Portugal 30 percent, Switzerland 21 percent, Nordic countries 14 percent and Italy 10 percent.

ZTA indicated that tourist arrivals from the Americas increased by 120 percent during the period under review, which had 22 620 compared to 10 294 arrivals in 2014. This growth was buoyed by Zimbabwe’s biggest market in the Americas region. Tourists from the United States rose by a massive 117 percent to 19 475 in 2016 compared to 8 972 in 2015.

ZTA also indicated that arrivals from Asia increased by 157 percent to 14 004 in 2016 from 5 441 in 2015. “The Asian region followed the growth pattern of the Americas, wherein all major markets grew significantly, except for Pakistan which fell by 53 percent,” said the tourism authority.

Source: Q1 tourist arrivals up 16pc (03/08/16)

Thursday, 28 July 2016

Corridors Through Time - A History of the Victoria Falls Hotel

Originally established in 1904 The Victoria Falls Hotel is steeped in a rich and interesting history covering the growth of tourism to the Victoria Falls.

Fully illustrated with over 100 archive images and over 30 modern photographs, Corridors Through Time - a History of the Victoria Falls Hotel traces the story of the Hotel's development, from humble beginnings to luxury five-star elegance, from the arrival of the railway to the age of aviation, and from colonial administration to Independence.

"Over the long period of its operation the Hotel has taken on an identity of her own, ‘The Grand Old Lady of the Falls,’ matriarch of Zimbabwe’s tourism industry. She has had her ups, and downs, but from modest beginnings she has a matured into a global icon, ranked among the most famous hotels of the world... ‘Corridors Through Time’ is more than the history of a Hotel - it is the story of the development of modern tourism to the Victoria Falls through the twentieth century."
Karl Snater, General Manager, The Victoria Falls Hotel (2009-2011).

See for more information and post-publication updates. [172 pages, 40,000 words]

Available to order online in the US through and the UK through - with shipping across the world.

First Published by the Jafuta Foundation, Zimbabwe.
Second Edition Zambezi Book Company / CreateSpace Independent Publishing

Also see Peter's first book, 'Sun, Steel and Spray - A History of the Victoria Falls Bridge,' also available on Amazon.

Sun, Steel and Spray - A History of the Victoria Falls Bridge

Announcing a new, extended edition of 'Sun, Steel and Spray - A History of the Victoria Falls Bridge' by Peter Roberts

Sun, Steel & Spray - A History of the Victoria Falls Bridge is a comprehensive history of the Victoria Falls Bridge. Built in 1904-5 as part of the extension of the envisaged Cape-to-Cairo railway north into central Africa, the spanning of the Zambezi River pushed engineering knowledge and construction techniques of the time to new heights, literally, for at the time the Victoria Falls Bridge was the highest of its kind over water.

With close to 100 period photographs over 150 pages, Sun, Steel and Spray is full of interesting facts, entertaining stories and information detailing the rich history of this iconic structure, from conception and construction to its ongoing management and maintenance.

This revised second edition builds on information published in the first edition and is presented in a new revised layout, with expanded text and many additional stories, details and images.

See for more information and post-publication updates. [158 pages, 45,000 words]

Available to order online in the US through and the UK through - with shipping across the world.

First published by the Victoria Falls Bridge Company (2011).
Second Edition Zambezi Book Company / CreateSpace Independent Publishing (2016).

See for more information and post-publication updates.

Also see Peter's second book, Corridors Through Time - A History of the Victoria Falls Hotel, also available on Amazon.

Monday, 25 July 2016

Hyena spotted dragging a human body near Victoria Falls

Two motorists approaching Victoria Falls this week were horrified to see a hyena dragging a human body, a conservationist told News24.

According to the publication, it later emerged that the hyena had not killed the woman, but had found her body after she committed suicide.

"It was about 3km from the town. It's a big tar road and they saw this hyena was dragging a body,"  Trevor Lane of the Bhejane Trust told News24.

Zimbabwe Parks and Wildlife Management Authority officials were alerted and came to track the hyena.

They found what was left of the body more than 1km from the road, just outside the hyena's den. Lane was told that it was the torso and the top of the chest.

Further investigations revealed the woman had had an argument with her husband and hit him with an axe. Thinking she had killed him she fled into the nearby national park and committed suicide.

"The hyena didn't kill her. Hyenas are scavengers: they just found the body."

Hyena attacks on humans are rare in Zimbabwe, but they frequently prey on their cattle. The Chronicle newspaper reported on Thursday that a single hyena had killed more than 30 cattle in the Bubi District in southern Zimbabwe since the beginning of the year.

The rural district council hired a professional hunter to kill the animal, the paper said.

One hyena was killed in the district last year. A 10-year-old lost her eye in 2013 when a hyena attacked and injured five villagers in the Buhera district of eastern Zimbabwe.

Source: Hyena spotted dragging a human body near Victoria Falls (23/07/16)

Victoria Falls Airport to Be Ready Next Month, Finally

The refurbishment of the Victoria Falls International Airport will now be completed next month after missing several deadlines, an official has said.
Civil Aviation Authority of Zimbabwe (CAAZ) general manager David Chaota told The Source on the sidelines of the ongoing Common Market for Eastern and South Africa (Comesa) meeting in Victoria Falls, that the contractor was putting finishing touches on the $150 million Chinese-funded upgrade.
"We are doing finishing touches and work is underway on face-lifting the existing terminal. Come August it will be ready, this is the final deadline now," he said.
CAAZ officials on Wednesday led delegates from the Comesa member states who are attending the week-long meeting, on a tour of the facility. The $150 million expansion project, which started in February 2013, will improve the airport's handling capacity from 500, 000 per annum to 1, 5 million.
The airport will now also handle wide-bodied aircraft, with CAAZ keen on developing it as a regional aviation hub.
China's Exim Bank is funding upgrading work through a concessionary loan facility while China Jiangsu is carrying out the construction work.
Expansion work has also been done on the existing runway, while the control tower, new fire station with a capacity for five fire engines, a water tower, car park, sewer ponds and water tank are already completed and in use.
"Work isn't complete yet but we are in the final stages of everything. The immigration space is now bigger and well-conditioned to facilitate quicker clearing of visitors for their convenience and we think we are now ready to receive more visitors," airport manager Ronny Masawi told the delegates.
He said four exclusive restaurants are already open and as are smoking and first class lounges.
The airport would also have offices and shops on the airside which CAAZ says are in line with international aviation standards.
The complex also houses two fuel service stations with a capacity of 1,200 litres of Jet A1 at any given time.
Source: Victoria Falls Airport to Be Ready Next Month, Finally (24 July 2016)