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Tuesday, 2 October 2018

Passenger volume at Vic Falls International Airport surges

Passengers volume at the upgraded Victoria Falls International Airport surged by 25 percent during period January to August according to latest figures from the Civil Aviation Authority of Zimbabwe (CAAZ) with calls for the tourism industry to position themselves to benefit from the continued influx of tourists.
Dubbed ‘The Game Changer’ the upgraded Victoria Falls International Airport which is a gateway to the majestic and legendary Victoria Falls continues to witness an influx of tourists.
Statistics from the domestic aviation body show that during the period under review, passenger volume at the airport stood at 264 525 compared to 211 379 during the same period in 2017.
The increase in passenger volume has raised hope that the country is on course to surpass the country’s 2018 tourists’ arrivals target of 2.5 million.
Employers Association for Tourism and Safari Operators president Mr Clement Mukwasi said the passenger volume is encouraging adding that operators should position themselves to benefit from influx of tourists.
“We are excited as an industry by the continued surge in passenger traffic at the upgraded Victoria Falls International Airport. This obviously means more business for the operators and the clarion call is for all players to position themselves to meet the increased demand for services,” he said.
There are currently eight airlines serving the Victoria Falls route namely South African Airlink, Fastjet, Air Zimbabwe, South African Airways, British Airways, Kenya Airways, Air Namibia and Ethiopian Airways.
Meanwhile, a survey titled ‘Victoria Falls Gateway’ conducted by tourism group Africa Albida, shows that the Zimbabwean side of the majestic Victoria Falls recorded total visitor entries of 317 778 in 2017 which translates to 36 percent compared to those recorded in 2016.
The upgrading of the Victoria Falls International Airport resulted in its passenger handling capacity being increased from 500 000 to 1.5 million per annum.
Analysts say though the recent growth in tourists’ traffic is commendable, stakeholders need to double efforts to ensure that the assets is fully utilised to reach the 1.5 million passengers per annum.

Air transport connectivity boosts Vic Falls tourism

The number of tourists to Zimbabwe's premier resort centre, Victoria Falls, has risen by 21% to 150 000 in the first six months of this year due to improved air connectivity, a survey has shown.

Titled Victoria Falls Gateway, the survey conducted by tourism group Africa Albida shows that the number of tourists is expected to reach 605 000 by year-end compared to 520 000 achieved in 2017.

Since its $150 million upgrade last year, Victoria Falls International Airport is serviced by eight airlines — Air Zimbabwe, South African Airlink, fastjet, South African Airways, British Airways, Ethiopian Airways, Air Namibia and Kenya Airways.

Early this year, the Zimbabwe Tourism Authority said the rising number of airlines and visitors could help the resort town grow into a regional tourism hub.

The findings of the Africa Albida survey show that Victoria Falls was the third most visited falls globally in 2017 with 500 000 visitors, after Niagara Falls (12 million) and Iguazu Falls (1,7 million), respectively.

The survey investigated tourist visits to Victoria Falls, Livingstone (Zambia), Chobe/Kasane (Botswana), and Hwange (Zimbabwe). Both the rainforest and falls in Victoria Falls remain Zimbabwe's top attractions.

"There was a further sharp increase in visitor numbers to the Zimbabwe side rainforest in 2018 of 26%, but foreign visitor number growth rose 28% vs local 15%. Hotel accommodation stays again grew less than the rainforest visits at 12,5% in 2018 first six months, again reflecting a boom in non-hotel stay on the Zimbabwe side," the report read.
Hotel room stays in the first half of the year totalled 106 183.

"The area is probably on a growth trajectory slightly below the 10% curve (a growth of 10% per annum over the next five years). However, the Zimbabwe side saw compound growth in arrivals exceeding 20% in the boom times of the 1990's for six consecutive years. It is possible that the Zimbabwean side is headed for growth similar to or exceeding the 15% line, which doubles visitor numbers under five years," the report further read.

The survey found that the Zimbabwean side of Victoria Falls recorded total visitor entries, both local and foreign, of 317 778 in 2017, a 36% increase on two years ago.

About 205 469 of the visitors were from overseas markets from 151 839 in 2016.

The United States was the biggest source of visitors to Victoria Falls on the Zimbabwean side, accounting for 73 803 visitors in 2017, followed by Germany (25 855), Australia (17 023), France (16 092) and Japan (31 702).

However, the findings also showed that Zimbabwe is the most expensive in the region due to the strength of the United States dollar.

A 2015 survey conducted by the Zimbabwe Council for Tourism in 2015 on 145 tourists in Victoria Falls found that 52% of the visitors were spending more than their budget due to higher costs.

Source: Air transport connectivity boosts Vic Falls tourism (02/10/18)

Vic Falls mall ahead of schedule

ZIMRE Property Investments' $13 million Sawanga Shopping Mall, which is currently under construction in Victoria Falls, is expected to be operational by December this year, ahead of the formerly proposed timeline. 

Providing above 5 000 square metres of lettable space, the mall consists of 23 shops of various sizes, banks, concept houses, food courts, restaurants, coffee shops, service station and curios shops. The mall has at present received expression of interests that exceed the space available. 

Zimre Property Investments board chairperson Jean Maguranyanga revealed that the mall could be completed a month before the scheduled timeline and the property company is already overwhelmed with enquiries from potential tenants of the yet to be completed shopping mall. "Letting of the shops is in progress and the expressions of interest received exceed the space available.

"The major tenants are expected to start trading in December ahead of the scheduled project completion date," said Ms Maguranyanga. 

The mall is one of Zimre's major projects as the company has also been converting Nicoz House Bulawayo from offices to student accommodation and could start taking occupants this October. 

Renovations started in January 2018 and the property will provide approximately 194 beds, a canteen and student amenities at the lower floors. These developments come at a time when the company slumped in profits and revenue as compared to the same period last year.

Profit for the year up to June dipped by 68 percent to $197 397 from $613 526 recorded in the prior comparable period whilst the company's revenue decreased by 41,3 percent to $1,5 million from last year's $2,6 million. 

Slowdown in the group's profitability is largely attributed to the refurbishments at Nicoz House in Bulawayo and construction of Sawanga Mall in Victoria Falls which evidently require massive capital injection.

Source: Vic Falls mall ahead of schedule (02/10/18) 

Sunday, 30 September 2018

Two white rhinos killed in Mosi-o-Tunya Park

TWO white rhinos were last week killed in the Mosi-O-Tunya National Park in Livingstone.



The Department of National Parks and Wildlife suspects the killing of the two rhinos was an inside job, as the radio-tagged animals were well-protected and were under surveillance.

“We strongly suspect that this was an inside job involving one of our officers,” said Sakabilo Kalembwe, who is Ministry of Tourism and Arts spokesperson.

According to Mr Kalembwe, the rhinos, a male named Lewis and a female named Sepo, were gunned down on Sunday night by poachers who went away with a horn from one of the animals 

Source: Two white rhinos killed in Mosi-o-Tunya Park (30/09/18)

More: Chinese Poachers kill Rhinos in Livingstone park (26/06/18)

German tourist trampled by elephant, Victoria Falls

A tourist was yesterday left for dead by a raging elephant after he tried to film the dangerous animal behind a Victoria Falls hotel.
A vendor, Anele Mpofu, said he witnessed the shocking incident that left the tourist, believed to be from Germany, badly injured at around 6pm.
He said the victim was with a group of tourists that were walking from Look Out Café near Kingdom Hotel.
“I heard a loud trumpet and breaking of trees. l alerted other vendors and we rushed to the bush,” Mpofu said.
“We found an elephant bull trampling the tourist while threatening to charge at us.
“It was a case of life or death and l took a catapult and a stone that l always carry in my sling bag for protection and hit a female elephant that was standing close to the victim.
“I hit it hard on the ear and a herd of about 12 elephants with three calves moved away.”
Mpofu said the injured tourist’s wife pleaded with them to save her husband’s life but was struggling to communicate in English.
He said one of his legs was badly injured and he could hardly speak.
The vendors tried to carry the injured tourist as they sought help.
Nqabile Nkomazana, a vendor, said they found a camera and cone of ice cream at the scene.
Zimbabwe Parks and Wildlife Management Authority ( Zimparks) spokesperson Tinashe Farawo confirmed the incident .
He urged tourists to avoid drawing close to wildlife at resorts saying it was very dangerous.
“This is the breeding season for elephants and they are very dangerous,” Farawo said.
“Last week on Wednesday, another 49-year-old German woman was attacked and killed by an elephant at Mana Pools while taking photos. Elephants are very sensitive and tourists must exercise extreme caution.”

Thursday, 27 September 2018

Construction of Grand Prix circuit in Vic Falls to go ahead

Harare - Construction of a multi-million dollar Grand Prix circuit in Victoria Falls will go ahead despite mafia organisations trying to derail the development, Zimbabwe Tourism Authority chief executive, Dr Karikoga Kaseke, has said.
Speaking on the sidelines of the recently ended 11th edition of Sanganai/Hlanganani World Travel and Tourism Africa Fair in Bulawayo, Dr Kaseke said the benefits of such a facility were far reaching in shaping the tourism economy of Zimbabwe.
“The grand prix circuit will be a first in Africa after the one built in South Africa was closed. So why can’t we be proud to be the first country in Africa to have such a facility?
“Are we not going to be proud as Zimbabweans when we see world companies there and the Grand Prix will bring a minimum number of international media averaging around 9000 while spectators will be plus or minus 20 000. I will not forgo that and it has never happened in Africa,” Dr Kaseke said.
Besides the Grand Prix stadium, Dr Kaseke said, there was going to be a shopping mall that houses all the international brands.
“There is going to be a seven star 300 bedroom hotel which we will sell as a product and a vast shopping mall that will house all the Gucci’s of this world and international brands would be there,” Dr Kaseke said.
He said the Dubai based investor insisted that the noise from Grand Prix stadium would be contained so as not to disturb the nature.
“We are talking of somebody with loads of money. He’s a prince by virtue of being born to a king and he insisted the noise would be contained,” he said.
This comes in the wake of social media reports that the Grand Prix will be constructed inside the natural habitat and possibly disturb the wildlife.
“There are people in the industry working against the construction of this facility-mafia-style, including some from South Africa, but I can assure you it is going ahead. It has been approved by the highest office and there is going to be a ground breaking soon,” he said.
Dr Kaseke was also pleased that there were exciting times ahead in Zimbabwean tourism, including other major developments in Kariba.
He said an American investor was interested in constructing an amusement park in Binga which would equal or surpass Sun City in South Africa.
Sanganai/Hlanganani Expo is a business to business exposition that presents networking opportunities between the buyers, exhibitors and the travel trade. To date, 288 exhibitors and 21 countries have registered for participation.

Wednesday, 26 September 2018

Zimparks extends Vic Falls viewing time

The Zimbabwe Parks and Wildlife Management Authority (Zimparks), has extended cut off time to view the Victoria Falls from 7pm to 10pm and also introduced a coterie of activities as it moves to capitalise on the anticipated boom in tourism receipts.
The Victoria Falls also known as the Mosi-oa-Tunya is classified as one of the world’s seven natural wonders according the World Heritage Centre.
Victoria Falls is the country’s major tourist attraction accounting for the largest chunk for both the tourist receipts and arrivals.
The new dispensation led by President Mnangagwa has also targeted tourism as one of the major drivers upon which the country should build its economic revival after years of regression in the previous dispensation.
In response, Zimparks has come up with measures aimed at not only growing the arrivals, but also the elusive receipts that have been a worry for Government for some time.
“There are tourism products that we are now adding in Victoria Falls in an effort to generate more revenue,” Zimparks spokesperson Mr Tinashe Farawo told The Herald.
“We have already introduced bush dinners at the Livingstone statue, we are also increasing the time for night viewing at the majestic Victoria Falls. People can now view the falls up to 10pm from 7pm which was in place previously. 
“We are also introducing night driving in Zambezi National Park which is in Victoria Falls. We have also introduced a picnic site on the Zambezi River.
“We are looking at introducing a massage spar for beauty therapy and are in the process of acquiring beauty therapy equipment and also hiring cosmetologists so that we can increase value for money around the Victoria Falls so that our tourist can have more activities to partake in.
Tourist arrivals in Zimbabwe and in Victoria Falls in particular have been on the rise since November last year thanks to President Mnangagwa’s rise to power that has brought with it good will and investment opportunities.
Hospitality group Africa Albida Tourism (AAT) chief executive Ross Kennedy, said observations from the top 10 hotels in Victoria Falls show a 13 percent jump increase in hotel occupancy in the first quarter of the year compared to the same period last year.
The destination has also benefited from the refurbished Victoria Falls International Airport, which was renovated to the tune of $150 million.
The development has seen airlines that fly into the resort town among them Air Zimbabwe, British Airways, South African Airways, Kenyan Airways and SA Airlink and Air Namibia either increasing their frequency or resorting to much bigger planes than the ones they used before renovations.