Leonard Ncube, Victoria Falls Reporter
Tuesday, 13 October 2020
Tuesday, 6 October 2020
Operators of helicopter flights popularly known as "Flight of Angels" above the Victoria Falls have activated their systems in anticipation of return of tourists following the reopening of the sector.
Helicopter flights were automatically suspended when countries imposed travel bans as there were no travellers to take up the popular activity.
The Flight of Angels is the only opportunity for tourists to view the upper and lower Zambezi River including the gorges, magnificent Victoria Falls and bridge, both on the Zambian and Zimbabwean side.
Chikopokopo Helicopters, Zambezi Helicopters and Bonisairare are the three operators based in the resort town. The recent resumption of domestic flights and the anticipated start of regional travel has reignited hope for helicopter operators.
Chikopokopo workers are already on site and Covid-19 guidelines such as hand washing and sanitising provisions have been put in place.
The company's proprietor, Mr Lloyd Muchaka, said they have come up with packages for domestic tourists as they are ready to resume flights.
"We are excited by the coming of flights like Fastjet and we have been getting inquiries mainly from domestic tourists. We are hoping very soon we will be getting some from the region," said Mr Muchaka.
Fastjet resumed scheduled flights last Thursday while Ethiopian Airlines is expected to start tomorrow. Mr Muchaka said operators were looking forward to opening of borders, particularly the South Africa and Botswana borders.
"People are waiting for things to happen but we are getting inquiries and hopefully we will be able to sustain numbers. We are excited to welcome tourists back in the new normal. For now, we will be flying smaller families and making sure they are sanitised, masked as we have put in place necessary health guidelines. As clients come in, they will be sanitised and temperature checked," he said.
"I don't think it will be an easy road but somebody has to sacrifice. We have reduced our prices by about 25 percent as we put in place packages to lure domestic clients."
The tourism industry is generally sceptical about resuming most activities owing to low numbers of clients so far.
Sunday, 4 October 2020
Thursday, 1 October 2020
THE wrangle within the Mlotshwa family in Monde outside
Chief Mvutu, born Nyangayezizwe Mlotshwa died in March 2014 aged 61. He left behind three daughters, which fuelled the wrangle as the family vowed not to allow the late chief’s eldest daughter Ms Silibaziso Mlotshwa, now aged 24 and married, to take over.
The family nominated the late chief's brother Mr Sanders Mlotshwa as the successor in December 2014 but Silibaziso challenged that in court arguing that she is the one who should take over from her father.
The family convened a meeting on Monday following a High Court order three months ago which nullified nomination of Mr Mlotshwa as a potential successor and ordered the Hwange District Development Coordinator's office to restart the selection process with respect to human rights.
The meeting was chaired by Chief Sikhobokhobo of Nkayi who was leading a three-member delegation that included Chief Nekatambe of Hwange and Chief Tategulu of Tsholotsho on behalf of the Matabeleland North Provincial Chief's Assembly.
Hwange DDC Mr Simon Muleya, representatives from the Gender Commission and the Ministry of Local Government and Public Works, Silibaziso's lawyer Mr Thulani Ndlovu of Sansole and Senda Legal Practitioners, Victoria Falls Mayor Councillor Somveli Dlamini and other stakeholders attended the meeting.
The emotive meeting which started at 10am, was on two occasions adjourned to allow the family to deliberate on its own but to no avail.
After seven hours of deliberation the family failed to agree on who should succeed the late chief between Ms Mlotshwa and her uncle.
Chief Sikhobokhobo and his delegation and all other stakeholders
left around 5pm leaving the family to caucus and update the
In an interview after the meeting, Chief Sikhobokhobo said the meeting resolved to allow the family to deliberate and submit a name.
"This is an issue that should be handled by traditional leaders and we were here to give that freedom to the family to select their own person. They failed to agree and they will follow us tomorrow to the DCC office with the name of the person they would have agreed on," he said.
Earlier during the meeting, Chief Sikhobokhobo said the Provincial Chief's Assembly's role was to facilitate the process with the family making its own decision.
"We are not here to help you choose but to listen to what you tell us as a family hence you are the ones who should select and agree on who you chose," he told the gathering at the late chief's homestead.
Mlotshwa family spokesperson Mrs Effie Mlotshwa-Sithole said the family would follow the Nguni culture to which its chieftaincy is rooted.
"What's happening is that we are remaining behind as family to discuss this issue and we should submit a name tomorrow to the DDC office. The issue is not about who is first born or who is who, we are following the succession as it has always happened. Of the five chiefs in our lineage, two were not first-born children but were considered because there are several other qualities that are looked at," she said.
The family choice Mr Mlotshwa is a son to the late chief's brother Simon who is also late. The family said he is eligible to take over because his father was a chief.
Ms Mlotshwa vowed to stand for her right as she refused to bow to the family's plea for her to step down for her uncle.
The family was supposed to agree on a name for the successor and notify the DDC on Tuesday but had not done so by late yesterday afternoon. Chronicle
Source: Chieftainship Wrangle Rages, Six Years On (01/10/20)
Source: Chieftainship Wrangle Rages, Six Years On (01/10/20)
Wednesday, 30 September 2020
NANCY MWAPE, LusakaTHE tourism sector in Zambia has been hit the hardest by COVID-19 shockwaves, with virtually no international tourist arrivals since March 2020.
Although the country is now seeing a rise in the consumption of tourism services by the domestic market, this is not large enough to support the multitude of enterprises, especially large hotels that cater for international travellers or the luxury lodges at the higher end of the market.
The World Travel and Tourism Council has warned that the COVID-19 pandemic could cut 50 million jobs worldwide in the travel and tourism industry.
Eco-Tourism Association of Zambia (ETAZ) also projects that the pandemic could result in 7,000 jobs being lost, 168 safari lodges and camps closing, while over US$100 million would be lost from the safari industry in 2020.
Similarly, the air transport has also been adversely affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.
During the first half of 2020, domestic and international passenger movements at Zambia’s four major airports reduced by more than one million. The four international airports are Kenneth Kaunda in Lusaka, Simon Mwansa Kapwepwe in Ndola, Harry Mwaanga Nkumbula in Livingstone and Mfuwe in Mambwe.
However, with the easing of lockdown measures, some international airlines have resumed flights into Zambia.
Concerned about the happenings in the tourism industry, Government, in its quest to revive the sector and promote local tourism, has proposed relief measures to be implemented in the 2021 national budget.
Among the measures to be implemented is the time to pay agreement covering income tax and value added tax.
“Government has reduced corporate income tax rate from 35 percent to 15 percent on income earned by hotels and lodges on accommodation and food services, suspended import duty on Safari game viewing motor vehicles, tourist buses and coaches,” Minister of Finance Bwalya Ng’andu announced during his presentation of the 2021 national budget to Parliament on Friday.
Additionally, Government has also suspended retention fees paid by tourism enterprises, registration fees for hotel managers and licence renewal fees paid by hotels and lodges.
Since March this year, hundreds of workers have been sent on forced leave by hotel owners and tour operators in Lusaka and Livingstone, citing loss of business resulting from cancelled bookings, which grounded the industry.
Visits to the Victoria Falls heritage site were equally suspended on March 28 this year to avert the spread of the novel coronavirus.
However, on May 21, President Edgar Lungu announced the reopening of the Victoria Falls to help revive the sector, with a call on players to also consider tapping into the K10 billion stimulus package to boost their businesses.
To facilitate an increase in tourist arrivals into Zambia, Government has injected over US$1 billion in the construction of four international airports.
Dr Ng’andu announced that Simon Mwansa Kapwepwe International Airport and Kenneth Kaunda International Airport would be opened next year.
Likewise, to encourage Zambians to operate in priority sectors, under a multi-facility economic zone or an industrial park, Government has proposed to reduce the investment threshold for Zambian citizens to qualify for tax incentives under the Zambia Development Agency Act number 11 of 2016 to US$100,000 from US$500,000.
Furthermore, the minister of Finance has proposed to suspend import duty on safari game viewing vehicles, tourist buses and coaches.
Livingstone Tourism Association chairperson Rodney Sikumba is optimistic that the reduced corporate income tax will help stimulate the stifled industry.
Further, the association is pleased with the proposed reduced investment threshold in the tourism sector for Zambia to qualify for tax exemption.
“Most of our budget submissions have been taken up and on tax, we seem to have made progress and we are happy about that,” Mr Sikumba said.
Similarly, ETAZ chairman Grant Cumings is thrilled with relief measures given to the tourism sector.
“The announcements are very much appreciated; these are the first meaningful tourism reliefs in many years. In the context of recovery from COVID, the reduction in corporate tax is a welcome relief in a profitable environment, but perhaps not so effective in the current environment where tourism business are generally suffering huge losses, near bankruptcies. When companies are losing money, a tax on profit is not so helpful compared to a time when companies are profitable,” explains Mr Cumings.
For some time, ETAZ members have been crying for the removal of import duties on vehicles. Therefore Mr Cumings feels the relief has come at a right time when companies are struggling to meet statutory payments to employees and Government.
“While such measures are appreciated and helpful, and will be more so in the coming years; much more meaningful help to tourism now would be stimuli, like removing or at least reducing VAT on tourism services, and introducing a meaningful marketing budget and programme to generate new interest and growth in Zambia’s tourism,” Mr Cumings said.
But, acknowledging the difficulties regarding preparations of the 2021 national budget under the current economic conditions, the Tourism Council of Zambia has extolled Government for responding favourably to their submissions in an attempt to stimulate the economy.
Council board chairperson Vincent Mupwaya applauded the Minister of Tourism and Arts, Ronald Chitotela, and his ministerial team in addressing growth constraints faced by the tourism sector.
“It is our considered belief that the announced stimulant package will encourage foreign direct investment and also free up resources for reinvestment, reduce job losses in the tourism sector and enterprise level,” Mr Mupwaya said.
With tourism being the most affected economic sector by COVID-19 shocks, the council believes the industry will only recover if the announced measures are sustained for a reasonable period to allow the sector to recover fully.
And Mr Chitotela says Government is determined to resuscitate the sector through promotion of domestic tourism.
The minister has since appealed to tourism players to start reducing tourism packages for the domestic market so that Zambians could begin to benefit from local tourism services.
Monday, 28 September 2020
In 2019, about one million tourists visited the Victoria Falls in Livingstone, Zambia. Now, only a handful of locals view the Mosi oa Tunya (Smoke that Thunders), as it is locally named.