Footsteps Through Time

Footsteps Through Time
A History of Travel and Tourism to the Victoria Falls - www.zambezibookcompany.com

Friday, 30 September 2016

Plans for the 2, 400 Megawatts Batoka Hydro-Electric Scheme progressing

PREPARATORY works are progressing well on the planned construction of the US$ 4 billion Batoka Hydro-Electric Scheme (HES) at Batoka Gorge located about 54 kilometres downstream from Victoria Falls extending across the international boundary of Zambia and Zimbabwe.



The project, which was approved by the two countries in 2012, would produce 2, 400 Megawatts (MW) of electricity and create 3, 000 job opportunities during the peak of construction works.
There will be 1, 200 MW power plant on the Zambian side and another 1, 200 MW on the Zimbabwean side.

The Zambezi River Authority (ZRA) has been mandated by the Governments of Zambia and Zimbabwe to facilitate the implementation of the project, which was approved in 2012, in close consultations with ZESCO and Zimbabwe Power Company (ZPC).

ZRA Chief Executive Munyaradzi Munodawafa said preparatory works were progressing well from the time the project was approved in 2012.

Mr Munodawafa said this on Tuesday afternoon in Victoria Falls Town in Zimbabwe after a delegation of ZRA Board Members as well as journalists from Zambia and Zimbabwe inspected the proposed site for the power station on the Zimbabwean side.

“We are progressing well in the preparatory activities of updating the previous feasibility studies and Environmental and Social Impact Assessment.

“Currently, we have done almost 98 per cent of updating engineering feasibility studies while the final report of the Environmental and Social Impact Assessment will be released by the end of November 2016,” Mr Munodawafa said.

He said the Environmental and Social Impact Assessment was an important undertaking for the Authority to start mobilising funds for the project.

“In December 2016, we will have a Council of Ministers meeting where a fully-fledged feasibility study and EIA reports will be presented and discussed.

“The Council will direct the two Ministries of Finance in Zambia and Zimbabwe to start mobilising finances. The two have already anticipated this directive and they already wrote to the Africa Development Bank (AfDB) to take interest and to be the lead arranger,” Mr Munodawafa said.

He was hopeful that the funding for the project would be mobilised before 2018 after which procurement and tendering processes would start in readiness for the construction which is expected to be concluded between 2021 and 2024.

Mr Munodawafa said ZRA had also carried a lot of geotechnical investigations to establish on how Batoka Gorge dam would be constructed.

“A lot of drilling was carried out recently. Four major boreholes were drilled out of which two were drilled on each side of the banks and they were 100 metres in length as the structure of the dam has to be solid.

“Studies have indicated what stones to be used and where to get the stones from. Within the month of October, we will know how the dam will be. This is the major issue which has drawn us back as we did not have the data. We have learnt a lot in terms of Kariba dam and we won’t leave any stone unturned,” Mr Munodawafa said.

He also said about US$ 5 million had been spent to construct access roads to the site on both sides of Zambezi river. ZRA Board Chairperson Patson Mbiriri said all the previous studies had indicated that there would be no displacement of people during the construction of the project.

Mr Mbiriri, who is also Zimbabwe Permanent Secretary for Energy and Power Development Patson Mbiriri, also said that white water rafting activities would be disturbed during construction.

“In place of rafting, we will give you rowing. Between Batoka and Kariba, there will be scope of continued rafting.

“When you look at rafting, how many people are employed and who is benefiting from rafting as money is usually paid in offshore account?

People come from across the world and the numbers don’t justify 2, 400 MW. We can’t forget the need for power demand in our economies,” Mr Mbiriri said.

Zambia’s Director of Energy at the Ministry of Energy and Water Development Oscar Kalumiana said the power project was complex and it required careful planning before implementing it.

Mr Kalumiana, who represented the Permanent Secretary in his Ministry as co-chairperson, also challenged the media to package the power project into a simplified language that the public would understand.

“You can imagine how old Kariba Dam is and it is still standing. You need to check the firmness of the foundation before drilling the dam.

“From the two Governments points of view, there is progress being done and we are on schedule,” Mr Kalumiana said.

ZRA Project manager Ezekiel Kasaro said about US$20 million had been spent on the project since 1981 to conduct feasibility studies and other preparatory works.

Source: Plans for the 2, 400 Megawatts Batoka Hydro-Electric Scheme progressing well (29/09/16)

More on the Batoka Hydro Power Scheme

Dispute over Vic Falls truck inn $1m buy-out

Christopher Dube, Victoria Falls Reporter

A VICTORIA Falls businessman is at loggerheads with the municipality over ownership of a local truck stop facility.

The municipality entered into a partnership with Fusharn, a company owned by local conservationist and businessman Mr Trevor Lane to operate the facility.

Both parties are now seeking to end the marriage but are failing to agree on terms after the latter reportedly demanded $1 million buyout price.

The busy facility acts as a stop-over point for truck drivers to take a rest, refuel and unwind while also waiting for clearance to cross the border either via Victoria Falls Border Post and Kazungula Border Post into Botswana, Zambia and Zambia.

Town Clerk Mr Christopher Dube reported during a council meeting recently that the partnership was on the verge of collapse.

He said the other party’s buyout price, which he could not disclose, was too high considering that the facility was not profitable.

“They want separation and we cannot force them to remain in the partnership because that is allowed in any business set-up,” Mr Dube told councillors and management.

The municipality owns 50 percent shares while Mr Lane shares the other half with other partners through his private company.

Mr Dube said Fusharn had engaged a private valuator who had overpriced the facility resulting in the council engaging Government whose report is out but not yet public.

“We needed to have a re-look into their demands and as management we decided to engage a Government valuator because their value was too high. The Government valuator came last week and we can now engage as their value is reasonable,” he said.

Mr Dube said the council had two options – either to surrender the truck stop to Mr Lane’s company or buy them out.

“We have a partnership with Mr Lane where we are supposed to do a number of businesses within the trucking area. ‘‘The council decided to go it alone and they gave us their valuation, which we felt was on the higher side,” said Mr Dube.

He said the truck stop was not making profits hence the municipality could not accept the amount demanded by Mr Lane, adding that the local authority had no problem continuing with the partnership.

Mr Dube could not be drawn into revealing how much Mr Lane wanted as buyout.
Chronicle Business, however, learnt that Mr Lane wanted $1 million dollars, a figure given by the private valuator.

Mr Lane referred questions to his company’s board of directors, saying they are the ones handling the issue.

“That figure ($1 million) is not correct but I am not in a position to say anything about that now. Talk to the board, they are the ones dealing with the matter,” he said.

No comment could be obtained from the board of directors. The truck stop is located near Masue River, a few kilometres from the town centre - @ncubeleon

Source: Dispute over Vic Falls truck inn $1m buy-out (29/09/16)

African Bush Camps expands into Zambia

African Bush Camps is expanding into Zambia after taking over the site of Thorntree River Lodge on the banks of the Zambezi in Livingstone, a short distance from the Victoria Falls.

The lodge is being rebuilt with an environmentally conscious design.
According to CEO, Beks Ndlovu, Thorntree River Lodge is being redeveloped to fit with African Bush Camps’ style. “We are not rebuilding from scratch but rather redeveloping the facility. Thorntree is currently in the style of stone chalets, so we are keeping those structures but tenting the roof structures so that it fits in with the style of African Bush Camps,” said Ndlovu.

He said the lodge would have eight twin rooms and two family units, each with four beds. Each unit will have its own indoor and outdoor bathrooms and a private plunge pool.

Ndlovu said the main lodge would consist of a lounge with an open dining area, a gym and a spa overlooking the Zambezi River.

“The communal deck is set on the edge of the stunning riverside and is home to a sunken boma area and an infinity pool.” He added that wooden decking floated on the edge of the river, moving with the water level to create the illusion of being on a boat.

According to African Bush Camps, the lodge is set to open on May 1.

Source: African Bush Camps expands into Zambia (27/09/16)

Thursday, 29 September 2016

Batoka project cost down $2bn

The projected cost of the proposed Batoka Gorge Hydro-electric scheme on the Zambezi River has been revised downwards from $6 billion to $4 billion. The revision comes as the Zimbabwe and Zambian governments intensified work on the project. Both Governments have since allayed fears that the proposed scheme could result in flooding in the resort town of Victoria Falls, threatening water sports.



Addressing journalists from Zambia and Zimbabwe at a two-day media tour at the proposed site of the project in Kasilili Village, about 80km from the resort town, the chairperson of Zambezi River Authority (ZRA), Mr Partson Mbiriri said it had been recommended that the dam will be “a runoff river scheme.”

He said the scheme meant that little amounts of water would be stored while the rest would be released immediately to generate power. There has been an outcry by tour operators in Victoria Falls and Livingstone that if the project went ahead, they would be forced to stop white water rafting.

“There have been outcries that Victoria Falls will flood because of the dam wall to be constructed and yes we have to be careful of how high the dam wall and flow of the river would be.

“This type of a scheme is referred to as run-off river scheme meaning there would be little storage. The water will just flow through, generating electricity and that will not flood Victoria Falls. We have learnt from how the Kariba dam was constructed,” he said.

Mr Mbiriri who is also the permanent secretary in the Ministry of Energy and Power Development said the dam wall will be about 100 meters high, generating 1 200megawatts of electricity for both Zimbabwe and Zambia. He said both countries would each have a hydro power station.

“Both countries will produce 1 200 megawatts each and double the current production we have at Kariba Dam. “We however have more sites along the Zambezi River which we can utilise to produce power,” said Mr Mbiriri. He said they were looking for $4 billion to fund the project which is expected to be completed in 2024.

Source: Batoka project cost down $2bn (28/09/16)

More on the Batoka Hydro Power Scheme

Wednesday, 28 September 2016

Zim Golf Tournament raises in $26K to combat poaching

THE war on poaching in the Victoria Falls region has been given a $26,300 boost by a fundraising golf tournament, coordinated and hosted by Africa Albida Tourism.

A total of 132 players, making up 33 teams, teed off for charity at the 16th annual fundraising Golf Day for the Victoria Falls Anti-Poaching Unit (VFAPU) at Borrowdale Brooke Golf Club on September 16, before a prize-giving function and auction.

The fundraising tournament was won by Sanjay Babbar and Tom Austin, with other teams including the Zimbabwe Special Olympics golfers sponsored by Delta Airlines, and Ambrose African Birds, who took the best dressed team prize in matching wildlife inspired outfits.

The tournament winners each took home a voucher for two nights in a three-bedroom Victoria Falls Safari Suite, valued at $2,400, while second and third prize winners each took home two-nights for two, including breakfast, at Victoria Falls Safari Club and Victoria Falls Safari Lodge respectively.

A Patrick Mavros bracelet and four travel packages were auctioned, including a 12 night self-drive for two around Zimbabwe staying at Chilo Gorge Safari Lodge, Camp Amalinda, Somalisa Camp, Victoria Falls Safari Lodge, Ilala Lodge and The Hide Safari Camp, which fetched $4,600.

In addition to the funds raised for VFAPU, goods such as 17 two-plate gas stoves and cylinders, and engine oil, were donated.

Africa Albida Tourism (AAT) chief executive Ross Kennedy said: “Once again the spirit and commitment of Zimbabweans was on show on September 16 at the annual VFAPU Golf Day when a sum of $26,300 was raised.

“In this challenging economic environment with so many demands on business and community, we are overwhelmed by this show of care, concern and shared commitment to anti-poaching and conservation,” Mr Kennedy said.

“The sense of genuine compassion and humanity for those challenges is truly valued by us all,” he said.
VFAPU head of operations Charles Brightman said: “It was a fantastic effort, and I’d like to thank everyone involved. It is tremendous to see so much support for such an important cause.

“The funds raised will go towards the operational costs of the unit, which at $7,500 a month included salaries, fuel and vehicle maintenance,” Mr Brightman said.

VFAPU’s 17 scouts, who tackle all forms of poaching in the Victoria Falls region, have arrested nearly 700 hardened poachers since the unit was established in 1999 by Mr Brightman, a local safari operator and conservationist, and Victoria Falls Safari Lodge, AAT’s flagship property.

The unit, which works closely with the Zimbabwe Parks and Wildlife Management Authority and the Zimbabwe Republic Police, has also removed more than 22 000 wire snares from its operational area, and rescued 183 injured mammals from snares.

Source: Golf Tournament rakes in $26K to combat poaching (27/09/16)

Tuesday, 27 September 2016

Demolitions loom outside Victoria Falls

Dozens of homesteads and lodges illegally built on a piece of land reserved for eco-tourism in Monde outside Victoria Falls face demolition.

Hwange Rural District Council (HRDC) has condemned the illegal structures describing them as an eyesore to tourism.

Dozens of people some of them residents of Victoria Falls relocating from the resort town because of high cost of living have allegedly erected structures such as homesteads and lodges without council approval.

The area stretches from the grid about 10km outside Victoria Falls town to beyond the Victoria Falls International Airport and along the Zambezi River to Chisuma under Chief Mvuthu.

It is alleged that some of the people paid suspected land barons as much as $2 000 for stands on an area earmarked for eco-tourism, near a Government planned recreational park.

Hwange council chairperson Alderman Siphiwe Mafuwa told Chronicle Business that some have built 32-roomed lodges.

“A lot has been happening as people have settled themselves without council approval. There is haphazard settlement as people migrate from Victoria Falls to avoid paying rates and water bills.
“We have met three times on that and recommended that they should stop. We have engaged traditional leaders, officials from Agritex who are pegging the stands and health officers who are approving some of facilities and agreed that no more allocation should take place as we work to rectify the situation,” said the council chairperson.

She said investigations were still underway following allegations of money exchanging hands and everyone, including traditional leaders if any are involved will meet their fate.

“Some have built 16 rooms and 32 rooms and they will all be destroyed because we want to formalise land use,” she said without giving a timeframe on when the process is likely to take place.

Ald Mafuwa said no land use is allowed within 3km from the main road.

Some villagers have also complained that their livestock now graze in the wild animal infested game park towards the Zambezi River and west of the Victoria Falls road where they risk being devoured because grazing land has been parcelled out.

Hwange District Administrator Miss Nkanyiso Jubane said the local authority will only be implementing Government policy on land.

“If it is established that they corruptly settled there then the process will have to take place. Delaying it would not help in any way,” she said.

Source: Demolitions loom in Hwange (26/09/16)

Monday, 26 September 2016

Vic Falls budgets $12m for water, sewer revamp

Leonard Ncube, Victoria Falls Reporter

VICTORIA Falls Municipality has set aside close to $12 million to upgrade its water and sewer systems following complaints by residents about continued erratic services.

The project will put an end to a septic tank system which residents have condemned.
Briefing residents at a budget consultation meeting, outgoing Town Clerk Mr Christopher Dube said the Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) project will start in March next year.

“The WASH programme will start soon and will run concurrently with BB7 and Buffer Zone housing projects. No planning was done for the water and sewer system in BD39 (Aerodrome) and we now want to normalise things,” said Mr Dube.

Council partnered CBZ in a $12 million deal for construction of BB7 and Buffer Zone houses.
Town Treasurer Mr Thembinkosi Khumalo said the WASH project would be rolled out in two phases spread over two years.

“The council has spent $85 384 on layout plans for the project. The feasibility study has told us that the first phase of the project will cost $6,6 million and is expected to commence in March 2017 and will take 18 months,” said Mr Khumalo.

He said the second phase would cost $5,2 million.

The Town Treasurer appealed to ratepayers to honour their obligations so that council can deliver.
Council is owed $15 536 695 by residents and businesses while it owes service providers over $8 million.

Contributing at the ongoing budget meetings, residents expressed fears that the water and sewer situation would worsen after completion of the new housing projects as the population would grow.

“The council must look into the issue of septic tanks which are now producing a strong unbearable stench at our houses,” said Mr Blessing Munyenyiwa, a resident.— @ncubeleon

Sources: Vic Falls budgets $12m for water, sewer revamp (23/09/16)

Saturday, 24 September 2016

Zambian Mealie Meal Floods Victoria Falls

Zambian mealie meal has flooded the resort town of Victoria Falls despite a government ban on the importation of the basic commodity.
The Financial Gazette established that traders were making brisk business selling Zambian mealie meal at popular markets, while others moved around Chinotimba and Mkhosana townships on bicycles selling the product.
Some local shops also had stocks of the Zambian product, which sold for nearly half the price of locally produced mealie meal.
"It is the price and the quantity that matters," said a local trader.
"It all makes economic sense for the suffering residents," he added.
Investigations indicated that Zambian traders brought the mealie meal from across the border daily on bicycles for sale in Victoria Falls.
Some shop owners were now repacking the cheap Zambian mealie meal into smaller packages for resell to impoverished residents for a dollar a packet.
Thembinkosi Ndlovu, the southern region chairperson of the Grain Millers Association of Zimbabwe, said Zambian mealie meal was being smuggled into the country.
"This is a violation of the country's laws. This is smuggling and I have alerted my national leadership in Harare. We want to find out how it is finding its way across the border when the government has prohibited the importation of mealie meal," said Ndlovu.
"We have to find out what is happening at that border (Livingstone) otherwise we are in full support of the ministerial ban. Our fear now is that the cheap mealie meal will flow to every corner of Zimbabwe, greatly threatening the survival of local millers. The government's statutory instrument is intended to protect local producers who have been under threat from foreign companies," said Ndlovu.
In June this year, the government gazetted Statutory Instrument 64 of 2016 which prohibited the importation of a wide range of goods unless under licence granted by the Ministry of Industry and Commerce.
The influx of Zambian maize products comes amid revelations that the milling industry in the southern part of Zimbabwe is in a crisis due to an acute shortage of grain.
The Grain Marketing Board, the sole government entity charged with procuring and distributing grain in the country, is now unable to supply grain due to the scarcity of the product.
Local millers are battling to import grain from neighbouring countries such as Zambia and South Africa and even Europe due to financial constraints.
Source: Zambian Mealie Meal Floods Victoria Falls (22/09/16)

Thursday, 22 September 2016

Govt avails more land for tourism

THE Government has allocated 378 hectares of land to the Ministry of Tourism and Hospitality in Victoria Falls as part of efforts to turn the resort town into a financial and hospitality centre, Acting President Emmerson Mnangagwa has said.

Speaking at the relaunch of Golden Mile Hotel in Kwekwe at the weekend, Acting President Mnangagwa said the move is part of the grand strategy of coming up with a special economic zone (SEZ) policy.

“We’ve also identified the Victoria Falls as a financial and hospitality centre and in that respect. I’m glad to advise that 378 hectares has been allocated to the Ministry of Tourism and Hospitality and this is an opportunity for those who would want to develop hotels and hospitality facilities,” said the Acting President.

The SEZ Bill is awaiting approval to pave the way for the designation of areas to be given such status.

Meanwhile, the Acting President has commended the hospitality industry for pegging some of its prices in the South African rand as part of efforts for the sector to remain competitive on the regional market.

He said: “I’m happy to note that the tourism and hospitality industry is the first to appreciate that the United States dollar denominated pricing model doesn’t work in a regionally competitive market such as ours, and have thought of how, in order to match South African and Zambian competition, they could peg some of their prices in rand.

“But to remain competitive, costs of operating such businesses would need to be aligned to the rand denominated sales. If this pricing model is successful, other industries and sectors might also follow suit, eventually benefiting the wider economy.”

Acting President Mnangagwa challenged the National Competitiveness Commission to critically interrogate the current pricing structure, with a view to developing a competitive pricing model that could help stimulate economic growth.

Source: Govt avails more land for tourism (21/09/19)

Vic Falls mosquito menace hits tourism

Leonard Ncube in Victoria Falls

TINY as they are, mosquitoes are reportedly wreaking havoc and scaring away tourists in Victoria Falls, the country’s prime tourism destination.

The insects are a problem at this time of the year and have infested the resort town especially hotels and lodges with clients reportedly raising alarm to operators and authorities to take action.
In response to complaints by the public and tour operators, the local authority says it would fast-track its spraying programme — due to start on Monday next week.

The resort town has also approached its counterparts in Livingstone and Kasane in Zambia and Botswana respectively to harmonise the spraying programme since they are also affected.
This came out at a budget consultative meeting on Monday evening when residents from wards one, two and three, which are all in the low density areas, met to give their ‘wish list’ to council as the local authority consults towards the crafting of the 2017 budget.

Said a resident from Ward 1: “We’ve a challenge with mosquitoes. Clients in hotels are complaining about these mosquitoes.

“The council should budget for spraying of mosquitoes. Firstly, you should make an environment assessment because last year you sprayed but mosquitoes became too many and up to now the situation has not improved. Maybe the chemical you used killed spiders that feed on mosquitoes.”
Participants at the meeting, most of them hotel and tour operator managers concurred that there “were too many mosquitoes in town.”

Last year residents complained to the local authority that Dichlorodiphenyltrichloroethane (DDT) the chemical used to spray mosquitoes during the town’s indoor residual spraying (IRS) programme was ineffective.

They alleged that mosquitoes invaded their houses soon after spraying and some households refused to have their houses sprayed. Council’s Housing and Community Services director Mr Lot Siatimbula confirmed receiving reports about the high presence of mosquitoes.

“My office has been inundated with phone calls about mosquitoes. We have been using DDT and people objected and now we’ve changed to an organophosphate chemical as we’re going to start on September 26,” said Mr Siatimbula.

“We’ve checked with Zambia and Kasane so that we spray at the same time because mosquitoes can travel up to 6km hence we have to harmonise our efforts.

“Last year we were doing indoor residual spraying and we’re changing to a three-tier system, which is indoor using an organophosphate chemical as well as fogging on outdoor areas and spraying all breeding areas such as ponds and pools.”

He said last year the council sprayed 65 percent of properties while 30 percent remained breeding places.

“We believe these initiatives will make an impact even though we wouldn’t be 100 percent effective because when we spray water bodies we cannot spray Zambezi River,” said Mr Siatimbula as he warned that the programme will have a bearing on tariffs.

He said officials from the Ministry of Health and Child Care visited hotels last week to assess the situation.

Mrs Yvonne Yandles, chairperson of Business Against Crime Forum of Zimbabwe (BAFCOZ), however, expressed concern that the ministry was asking for contributions yet spraying of mosquitoes in urban areas is a preserve of local authorities.

She asked why the Government concentrates on rural areas. Town Clerk Mr Christopher Dube said the local authority would not comment on Government plans.

Source: Vic Falls mosquito menace hits tourism (21/09/16)

Wednesday, 21 September 2016

16 Victoria Falls protestors acquitted

SIXTEEN people who were facing public nuisance charges for staging a demonstration in Victoria Falls on July 6 have been acquitted.

Victoria Falls magistrate Ms Lindiwe Maphosa, who last week ruled that the 16 be put on their defence, yesterday said the State had failed to prove that they blocked traffic as alleged.

This was after defence lawyer Mr Thulani Nkala produced pictures and videos of the demonstrators carrying placards.

“The court finds that there is no evidence to show that the accused blocked the right lane of Livingstone Way as alleged. Videos presented as evidence show cars passing freely and there is nothing even in pictures to depict criminal nuisance,” said Ms Maphosa.

She said the State had failed to dispute the pictorial and video evidence.

“For accused persons to be found guilty of this offence, the State had to prove every essential element beyond reasonable doubt.

“In this case this hasn’t been done as I have indicated in the foregoing. I therefore find the accused persons not guilty. They are acquitted,” said the magistrate.

The 16 are: Bryrn Potter (23), Louse Doran (38), Daniel Connolly (31), Ephias Mambume (36), Kelly Varley (33), Nikki Blythe (30), Danielle Ponter (33), and Sarah Norton (50), Dustin Labuschagne (31), Mkhululi Nyoni (42), Raphael Moyo (33), Guy Cock-Croft (27), Lawrence Benjamin Norton (53), Japhet Tshuma (48), Shane Peel (21) and Marie Connolly (58). Blythe resides in Borrowdale Brooke in Harare while the rest are from Victoria Falls.

Mambume is the MDC-T Councillor for Victoria Falls Ward 6 while Varley is the daughter of MDC-T’s Victoria Falls Ward 1 Councillor Margaret Varley.

They had pleaded not guilty to the allegations arguing that they were only exercising their Constitutional right.

Clr Mambume spoke on behalf of the group and told the court that the demonstrators never blocked a road.

While the defence invited lawyer Mr Paul Connolly, who also witnessed the demonstration, to testify, the state led evidence from three police officers from Victoria Falls Police Station.

The three alleged that the 16 demonstrators disturbed traffic and prevented motorists from parking at a car park.

Initially the group was also charged with failing to give notice of a gathering to the regulating authority in terms of the Public Order and Security Act (POSA) but the charges were quashed for lack of merit leaving only the alternative charge of criminal nuisance.

Mr Takunda Ndovorwi prosecuted.

Source: 16 Victoria Falls protestors acquitted (20/09/16)

Further: Australian demonstrators arrested at Victoria Falls Zimbabwe ()

Tuesday, 20 September 2016

Zuma’s son plans to build hotel in Vic Falls

The son of South African president Jacob Zuma, Selby, plans to invest in a new hotel in Victoria Falls.

In an interview on the sidelines of the re-launch of The Golden Mile Hotel in Kwekwe at the weekend, Mr Selby Zuma described Zimbabwe as a safe and attractive destination for investment.

He said with his local partner, Mr Solomon Matsa, the new owner of Golden Mile Hotel, they had plans to invest more in the country and create employment.

“I love Zimbabwe and I’m always here. One of my sisters is married here. We are looking at a possible joint venture to construct a hotel in Victoria Falls with Solomon,” Mr Zuma said.

He said Zimbabwe and South Africa will always be there for each other even when the economy is not looking well.

Mr Zuma said all countries have problems but what needs to be done is for citizens to work together, pulling in the same direction for development.

“The relationship between Zimbabwe and South Africa dates back to the liberation struggle. My father and other ANC members were protected here in Zimbabwe. We have a rich history between ANC and Zanu-PF and so things will get better,”he said.

Mr Zuma said investing in Zimbabwe would create employment and develop the economy.

Mr Matsa said he came a long way with Mr Zuma and the two were business partners.

Officially opening the refurbished Golden Mile Hotel on Saturday, Acting President Emmerson Mnangagwa said the Government had set aside 378 hectares of land in Victoria Falls for tourism development and the resort town had been identified as a special tourism economic development zone.

Speaking at the same occasion, the acting Minister of Tourism, Cde Makhosini Hlongwane, said the re-launch of Golden Mile Hotel is a major milestone not only to Kwekwe and the Midlands province but to the nation at large in terms of economic revival through tourism.

Despite negative coverage in the Western media, Zimbabwe remains a prime investment destination for foreigners, while locals are gearing to take advantage of the vast natural resources in the country.

Nigerian tycoon, Mr Aliko Dangote, is exploring multi-million dollar investment opportunities in mining and cement production while Russian investors are keen to inject about $4 million into a platinum venture in the Great Dyke.

Delegations from countries that include China, France, turkey and Germany are also eyeing opportunities in sectors like mining, manufacturing, agro processing, tourism and health care.

Source: Zuma’s son plans to build hotel in Vic Falls (20/09/16)

Monday, 19 September 2016

Vic Falls Wildlife Trust receives funding

THE Victoria Falls Wildlife Trust (VFWT) in Zimbabwe has received a $25 000 environmental grant from Ford Motor Company in order to promote wildlife conservation throughout the region.
VicFalls24
VFWT manager Roger Parry (left) with general manager Jessica Dawson centre and Bill Cornish of Dulys
VFWT manager Roger Parry (left) with general manager Jessica Dawson centre and Bill Cornish of Dulys
The project is located in the town of Victoria Falls in north-west Zimbabwe, named after the world-famous waterfall on the Zambezi River that forms the natural border with neighbouring Zambia.
Working with local communities and partners, conservation education is one of the Victoria Falls Wildlife Trust’s main projects.
“Once a week we transport a group of school children from the area to interact with wildlife ambassadors and discuss the importance of conservation and natural resources,” says Alberto DeLeo, the Trust’s managing director.
“This education is crucial to create conservation awareness, and the grant from the Ford Motor Company will make it possible for us to reach a lot more children. Throughout the year, the VFWT hosts between 800 to 1 000 children in this weekly activity, transporting them to the facility and giving them an opportunity to interact with elephant, cheetah and a white-back vulture,” he said.
“For many kids, this is the first time they see these animals outside of a conflict situation, and the project focuses on the benefits of wildlife in the area, the importance of conservation for tourism and the dependence on wildlife for many occupants.”
A hot lunch is provided for the children, and each one departs with a booklet that highlights human wildlife conflict, prevention and assistance, along with the critical issues of poisoning and poaching.
In order to deal with conflict between people and wild animals, VFWT maintains a conflict hotline, assisting rural communities to find ways to mitigate the conflict — particularly in the peak season from December to April each year, when carnivores attack livestock and elephants raid rural village gardens and crops. A VFWT community liaison is based within the rural community to respond to these incidents and help develop solutions.
VFWT also runs a rescue and rehabilitation facility to care for injured and orphaned animals, and particularly those affected by poaching or other human-inflicted injuries. The aim is to release the animals back into the wild, but where this is not possible they are cared for, and may become wildlife ambassadors to assist with the conservation education program.
A new initiative, which will be made possible by the Ford environmental grant, will be the establishment of a permanent high care facility for young mammals and birds that require 24-hour care. This will allow for improved monitoring, feeding and veterinary treatment of these animals so they can be rehabilitated and returned to the wild.

Vic Falls Residents Demand Tourism Revenue Share

Residents of Victoria Falls say they have been exploited enough and want a share of the revenue being generated from the Rainforest and several other natural resources such as wildlife. Speaking at a national budget consultative meeting at Chinotimba Hall on Friday, residents said they want 30 percent of money generated from the Rainforest.

Thousands of local and international tourists visit the magnificent Rainforest and numbers swell during holidays such as the festive season, Easter and school holidays, earning hundreds of thousands of dollars. Other attraction sites around the resort include the Zambezi and Chamabondo parks which are all under Zimbabwe Parks and Wildlife Management Authority.

There are also tour activities such as white water rafting, bungee jumping, sunset cruise, canoeing and game drives among others which are operated by private players who pay a certain entry fee to Zimparks.

“We have the Rainforest but we don’t benefit from it. We want 30 percent of money generated from there to be remitted to the town so that the funds can be used for developmental projects,” said a resident. Victoria Falls Ward 9 Councillor Somvelo Dlamini said besides setting aside a fund for Victoria Falls, government should ensure locals have free access to the Rainforest.

“What pains is that our children learn about natural resources that are on their doorstep from their counterparts from other provinces because they can’t afford the entry fees. Why not have a facility whereby locals are allowed free access,” he said.

It costs $7 for adult locals to access the rainforest while for kids its $4. Foreigners from the region pay $20 while those from outside Sadc and Africa pay $30. A walk with lions, elephant ride, rafting, boat cruise and canoeing cost an average between $50 and $150 depending on season. A majority of people who visit Victoria Falls for conferences or as tourists throng the Rainforest and undertake at least one of the activities.

Tourism is a strategic cash cow for the government, contributing about $1 billion to the national fiscus annually. Government, through its ZimAsset policy, says locals should benefit from resources available in their area.

Source: Vic Falls Residents Demand Tourism Revenue Share (19/09/16)

Thursday, 15 September 2016

'Our hotels are too expensive' - Zambian official echoes rival Zim's tourism lament

Harare - 'Our hotels are too expensive and locals can't afford them.' Sound familiar?
Tourism authorities in cash-strapped Zimbabwe have been lamenting this for years - but now it seems officials in neighbouring Zambia are saying exactly the same thing.
Ironically, Zimbabwe eyes Zambia with envy as far as tourism is concerned, believing tourists are being lured in their hordes to the Zambian side of Victoria Falls (and beyond) by much cheaper prices.
That may not necessarily be the case, locals say.
An official from the Zambia Tourism Agency (ZTA) told the Lusaka Times this week that would-be Zambian holidaymakers can't afford to visit local resorts. 
"Tour operators should look at introducing affordable rates in their packages for Zambians and that way they will have a lot of Zambians utilising your facilities," Jocelyn Mutinta told the Lusaka Times.
High charges are leading to "empty premises", she suggested.
Social discontent 
Her comments will be an eye-opener to officials from Zimbabwe's tourism industry.
Only this week the state-controlled Chronicle newspaper from the Zimbabwean city of Bulawayo complained that tourists wanting to visit Victoria Falls were put off by Zimbabwe's "expensive" (because they're charged in US) tourist facilities and "now prefer flying into Livingstone in Zambia from where they undertake tourism activities". 
Anecdotal evidence from Zambia this week suggests that residents looking for a cost-effective safari holiday may actually prefer to cross the border into Hwange and the Zimbabwe side of Victoria Falls, where game is more plentiful and government-owned Zimparks lodges provide a viable - and relatively cheap - accommodation option. Kafue National Park is Zambia's oldest and largest state park but lodges there are understood to be privately-owned and pricey, locals say.
Zimbabwe's tourism arrivals went up by 16% in the first quarter of 2016, Finance Minister Patrick Chinamasa says.
That was before the sudden surge in social discontent and the news Zimbabwe was to print its own banknotes. 
Sadly, these two factors may do much to put off local and international visitors.

Multi-million dollar complex for Vic Falls?

Leonard Ncube, Chronicle Reporter

VICTORIA Falls Municipality has signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with a South African and a local construction company to build a multi-million dollar complex in the resort town.

The local authority has engaged Manyara and Associates, a local contractor as well as Mud Hut of South Africa for the ambitious project: a civic centre, a five-star hotel, a shopping mall, convention centre and a hospital facility among other structures.

Finer details about the project are still sketchy as Town Clerk Mr Christopher Dube said the deal was still under discussion with the relevant authorities.

“We have a MoU but we can’t talk about it now because we need to report to Government first and then update a full council meeting,” he said.

He said full details on the whole project will be availed at a full council meeting at the end of this month.

According to the latest council report, the MoU has since been signed between council and Mud Hut after councillors okayed the multi-million dollar complex deal.

“Management sought approval from council to sign the MoU which was granted as the local authority agreed to engage Mud Hut and Benbally as funders while Manyara and Associates is the project proponents and CBZ Bank the project advisor,” reads part of the council report.

A tender to do a feasibility study was awarded to Hospitality and Tourism Industry (HTI) consultants of South Africa and the cost was put at $46 000.

The Government is also planning a conference centre between Victoria Falls International Airport and town centre which will house state-of-the-art facilities such as hotels, offices, conference rooms as it seeks to make Victoria Falls the country’s conference capital.

Source: The Chronicle, Multi-million dollar complex for Vic Falls? (15/09/16)

Tuesday, 13 September 2016

Poachers poison four elephants in Zim

A policeman who was part of a team that ambushed the suspects was killed while chasing the suspects.

Four suspected poachers escaped arrest after killing four elephants by spiking a water pan with cyanide in the Sinamatella area of the Hwange National Park in Zimbabwe early on Sunday.

In a statement, the Victoria Falls-based Zimbabwean conservation group Bhejane Trust said a policeman who was part of a team that ambushed the suspects was killed in friendly fire after an accidental firearm discharge during hot pursuit.

“Four elephants, plus some small birds, were found dead at a waterhole on the Sinamatella park boundary of suspected cyanide poisoning. Acting on a tip-off, Parks (and Wildlife Authority Management) rangers and Zimbabwe Republic Police (ZRP) details set up an ambush for the suspected ivory dealers involved in the poisoning.

“The four suspects fled in a vehicle after being challenged. The ambush team of two rangers and two ZRP details gave chase, but very unfortunately, one detail had an accidental (firearm) discharge which hit the other ZRP detail, who has subsequently died. The suspects obviously got away, but follow-up investigations continue. Bhejane Trust extends it deepest sympathies to the family of the deceased policeman, who died while doing his duty,” the group said.

The incident came four days after four armed poachers were arrested in a counter-operation by police and game rangers in the Tsholotsho communal lands, southwest of Hwange National Park, while tracking two elephants they had wounded in failed poaching attempts earlier.

Source: Poachers poison four elephants in Zim (12/09/16)





Vic Falls operators adopt Rand

Players in the local tourism industry have resolved to adopt a "rand-based" pricing system to cushion their businesses from the prevailing cash crisis. In the context of weakening regional currencies, the use of the strong United States dollar has negatively affected tourist arrivals as the country is viewed as an expensive destination. Recent reports indicate that some tourists wanting to visit Victoria Falls, for instance, now prefer flying into Livingstone in Zambia from where they undertake tourism activities and only cross to Zimbabwe as Zambian clients - prejudicing the country of the precious earnings.

Last week Finance and Economic Development Minister Patrick Chinamasa revealed that the approach (rand-based pricing system) has been agreed upon by the Government, players in the hospitality sector and the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe.

"In order for tourism industry to cushion itself from the current liquidity and cash crisis, it is highly recommended that the sector commences the use of the Rand Based Pricing System as agreed upon between the tourism ministry, the hospitality industry, and the Reserve Bank," said Minister Chinamasa in his mid-term fiscal policy review statement on Thursday.

In an interview yesterday, the Catering Employers' Association of Zimbabwe immediate past president Mr Joe Kahwema said what Minister Chinamasa announced was something that was already obtaining in the hospitality sector.

"Anybody is allowed to charge in any of the allowable currencies. If they (tourists) have the rand, for example, I cannot turn them away, I will simply collect the rand and rate it using the prevailing daily exchange rate against the US dollar.

"The reason why hotels in Zimbabwe are not competitive is not about the currency issue but the input costs. The input costs in Zimbabwe are higher compared to South Africa and that has made hotels here uncompetitive," he said, adding that this was also the reason why Rainbow Tourism Group's Beitbridge hotel closed down because it could not compete with the rand rate hotels in Musina.
Minister Chinamasa said Zimbabwe's tourism receipts were averaging over $700 million per annum and the sector has potential to contribute to alleviating the liquidity challenges in the economy. He said the first quarter of 2016 recorded an estimated 450 572 tourist arrivals, up from 387 557 during the same period last year, representing a 16 percent growth.

"All source regions recorded growth except for Oceania. On the downward side, during the first half of 2016, two key Beitbridge hotels — Holiday Inn Express and Rainbow hotel — were closed down in the border town. These two hotels accounted for about 57 percent of rooms in Beitbridge."
Minister Chinamasa also announced that for Zimbabwe to fully exploit its natural resources and tourism sites for the benefit of the economy, the Government was already implementing the National Tourism Policy promulgated in 2014 with the National Tourism Master Plan expected to be completed this month.

"The Master Plan provides an organised and structured framework for tourism development and promotion. Benchmarking exercises were carried out in February and June 2015 in South Africa and Tanzania, respectively. "Field visits to identify Tourism Development Zones were finalised and identification of provincial projects was undertaken during July 2016," he said.

Minister Chinamasa also highlighted that the Special Economic Zones Bill, which has been approved by Parliament and is awaiting Presidential assent, would boost tourism through implementation of the designation of Victoria Falls-Hwange-Binga-Kariba tourism corridor as a special economic zone.
Zimbabwe participated in some "must attend" tourism fairs that provide an opportunity to market the country as a safe tourist destination, endowed with natural wonders, a rich cultural heritage, and investment opportunities. With the rise of globalisation, he noted, every country faces stiff competition from others as they compete for tourist arrivals, and investment.

"The competitive edge that different tourism markets struggle for is a function of how positively or negatively, as the case may be, a nation's brand is perceived both at home and in the international community. "Consequently, the Government in collaboration with the relevant stakeholders is crafting a Nation Branding Concept," he said.

Source: Zimbabwe adopts rand (13/09/16)












Monday, 12 September 2016

Tour operators, rescue service providers ready for emergencies

Leonard Ncube in Victoria Falls

ZIMBABWEAN tour operators and rescue service providers are well equipped and ready to attend to any adventure related emergencies involving tourists.

This is consistent with international best practices so as to keep the country a safe tourist destination.
Tourists undertake various adventure activities such as white water rafting, bungee jumping, canoeing, gorge swing, sunset cruises, wildlife rides and game drives on the Zambezi River or in the predator infested parks where they are exposed to danger.

ACE Air and Ambulance held a two day on-field training on Monday and Tuesday to equip tour guides and paramedics on first aid, reaction time and patient handling.

The training involving ACE paramedics, Shearwater and Wild Horizon guides and Zambezi Helicopters staff, took place in the gorges where a mock helicopter evacuation was done and a patient was airlifted from rapid Number 10 followed by another imitation of a plane crash at Helipad.

On Tuesday guides were trained on how to rescue victims on the gorge swing and bungee jump.
ACE Air and Ambulance operations director Mr Mark Smythe said the training was aimed at preparing Victoria Falls for any emergency and assure tourists of their safety.

“Remember we had a tram accident two years ago, which resulted in a massive outcry from the world and we thought it is important to assess our preparedness and assure the world that Zimbabwe is a safe destination,” said Mr Smythe.

He said ACE services are accessible to any victim in tourist resorts such as Victoria Falls.

“As a certified air ambulance and part of airport disaster management team in Harare and Victoria Falls, we are required to have continuous training. Victoria Falls has gone without this kind of preparedness for many years and what we are doing here is simulating helicopter rescue from any remote area to show how safe the country is.

“Our service is not for the rich only but anyone on medical aid. However, for this tourist zone and for the image of the country we will activate the service to anyone even if they do not have medical aid cover because our objective is to attract as many people into the country as possible by assuring them of safety during their stay as we are fully equipped,” said Mr Smythe.

ACE has six doctors and 46 medics and nurses, seven road ambulances and one air ambulance fully equipped with ICU equipment that can sustain life from a distance of eight hours from a hospital, Mr Smythe said.

The company was established two years ago and serves the whole of Sadc region especially in DRC, Mozambique, Zambia, Malawi, South Africa and Zimbabwe as well as Kenya.

A sister company Halsted Aviation Corporation provides air ambulances.

Mr James Halsted implored the importance of communication between guides and their respective offices for swift reaction.

Rafting Association of Zimbabwe past president Mr Cephas Moyo welcomed the training as an important part of adventure activities.

“The training equips us on how to approach a helicopter, which is very dangerous equipment what to do in crisis management, handling of patients, communication skills and team leading to make sure we all do the right thing. Sometimes we have injuries while rafting and rescue always differ with case situations,” he said.

Employers’ Association of Tourism and Safari Operators president Mr Clement Mukwasi said it is every operator’s wish for Zimbabwe to remain a destination of choice.

“We are now in our high season where numbers are massive and adventure activities carry risks. As much as we have not had serious incidents lately, we need to stay prepared through upgrading training and refresher courses if this destination is to maintain its status as a preferred destination in the world,” he said.

In 2012 a tourist fell off the bridge during bungee jumping and was swiftly rescued by swift paramedics and guides while one tourist died while 20 others were injured in 2014 when a tram collided with a National Railways of Zimbabwe train. The injured were airlifted to South Africa for treatment. — @ncubeleon

Source: Tour operators, rescue service providers ready for emergencies (08/09/16)

Celebrating 111 years of the Victoria Falls Bridge

In celebration of 111 years of spanning the Zambezi gorge and the official opening of the Victoria Falls Bridge on 12 September 1905, the following extract from the new expanded second edition of 'Sun, Steel and Spray - A History of the Victoria Falls Bridge' by Peter Roberts tells the story of the opening of the Bridge 111 years ago today.

Official Opening of the Bridge

The official opening ceremony for the Victoria Falls Bridge took place on 12th September 1905. One of the newest 7th Class engines in the country at the time, decorated with two flags (that of the BSAC and the Union Jack), palm leaves and flowers, pulled the six coaches which then halted on the Bridge for the passengers to alight. Mr Allan Bowes is recorded as the driver. The party was met by Major
Robert Coryndon, the Resident Commissioner of North-Western Rhodesia (later Sir Robert Coryndon and Governor of Kenya).



Sir Charles Metcalfe made a welcoming speech and invited Professor George H Darwin (later Sir George Darwin), President of the British Association for the Advancement of Science, now the British Science Association, to declare the Victoria Falls Bridge officially open. Professor Darwin, described the honour of opening the Bridge as the ‘crowning glory of the tour.’

The Association had been invited to the Victoria Falls in 1902, with the idea of holding their annual meeting at the Falls and plans to develop the Hotel to accommodate one hundred guests. In the event the main part of the tour and official meetings were held in South Africa, with the trip to the Falls as a special excursion. Logistics must have caused the event committee some headaches, with over 300 members and guests expected.



For the conveyance of the British Association party and other special guests, the Railway Company ran six passenger trains at half hour intervals from Bulawayo. The earlier trains arrived in time to enable guests to visit the Falls for sunrise. Then, after breakfast at the Victoria Falls Hotel, guests proceeded by special train to the Bridge. Those unable to travel on the train were allowed to follow onto the Bridge after the train had arrived. The following day the Bulawayo Chronicle recorded the details of Professor Darwin’s speech:

“He said it was a most fortunate coincidence that this great enterprise had been brought to a stage at which it was proper to declare the bridge open during the visit of the members of the British Association to South Africa. Thanks to the generosity and care of the [Cape] Government Railways, they had just performed an astonishing journey of 1700 miles [2,736 km] in luxury and
comfort. (Cheers.)

One could not but feel that it was almost an impertinence that they should have been able to come, in electrically lighted sleeping cars, with restaurant saloons, to a place which the heroic explorers had spent many months in fruitless endeavours to reach. This was a thing which impressed itself on the imagination. Another thing which impressed them as Englishmen was that they were still under the Union Jack. (Loud cheers.)

“But two days ago they stood by the tomb of Cecil John Rhodes in the Matopas, and, amid that scene of wild beauty, all felt that the grave of the man who had thought in continents was fitly chosen. The great enterprise of the Cape to Cairo Railway, of which this bridge is a part, was due to his inception. It seemed nothing short of a fairy tale to stand on this bridge over the Zambesi. It was due to the influence of steam that this great enterprise had become possible, and he couldn’t refrain from quoting the remarkable forecast, written by his great grandfather, Erasmus Darwin, in 1785:

“Soon shall thy arm unconquered steam, afar Urge the slow barge and draw the flying car.”

“How little could the writer of these lines have foreseen that his great grandson should have the honour of declaring a railway bridge open in the heart of equatorial Africa. (Cheers.) Professor Darwin concluded by declaring the bridge open, touching a button which fused a cord stretched across.” (Bulawayo Chronicle, 13 Sept 1905)



Sir Charles presented Professor Darwin with a special hand-held staff of highly polished Zambezi wood, made by Bulawayo jeweller W H Blackler, in which was set an engraved representation of the Bridge and a gold plated inscription. The staff was designed with a metal loop at the head, possibly designed to be used by Professor Darwin to fuse the connection and open the Bridge.

Many well known scientists, professors and engineers of the time were present; Sir Benjamin Baker, Sir Colin Scott-Moncrieff, Lord Ross, Sir William Crookes and Sir R Jebb to name a few. There was, apparently, much speculation between them as to the exact height of the Bridge above the water:

“There is a story, said to be well authenticated, that at the time of the official opening of the bridge one of the members of the British Association party wished to test the depth of the gorge below the bridge. For this purpose he picked up a stone and took out his watch to note the length of time taken by the stone to reach the water. Absent-mindedly he dropped his watch into the gorge and found himself examining the stone in his hand.” (Southern Rhodesia Publicity Office, 1938)

With the opening ceremony complete the train slowly drew forward amid cheers. The main group of guests alighted on the northern bank where they could explore the Palm Grove or visit Livingstone Island. The remainder of the guests visited the Rain Forest, under the guidance of Mr Allen, and then back to the Hotel for lunch, by which time the train returned with the first group and collected the second group for the trip to the north bank.

Mr E Knowles Jordan, in the employment of the Administration at Kalomo, was one
of those present on the Bridge and described a hair-raising moment for one railway
worker:

“In 1905 the Victoria Falls Bridge was officially opened, and I made one of a party to cross to Northern Rhodesia in the first passenger train. Four or five of us stood on a carriage platform looking at the scenery. As the heavy Pullman cars moved slowly along, a railwayman standing on one of the girders watching the progress of the train suddenly slipped and for a moment it looked as if he would be precipitated into the torrent far below. Fortunately, however, he managed to grip the girder and slowly drew himself into a position of safety.” (Northern Rhodesia Journal, 1951)

Guests were given voucher tickets for the train, tours and meals, issued together with a special commemorative programme. In the evening the Victoria Falls Hotel served dinner for a several hundred guests, after which trips to see the Falls by moonlight were offered.

Among the distinguished guests at the ceremony was a Mrs Agnes Bruce, wife of Colonel Bruce, and daughter of Dr David Livingstone. Another of the guests at the ceremony, a Miss Catherine Mary Phillimore, composed a rather lengthy poem comparing the majesty of the Victoria Falls and that of Her Majesty Queen Victoria, after who they were named (Rhodesia Railways Magazine, Sept 1955).

At the evening dinner Sir Charles read a telegram from the President and Directors of the Chartered Company, congratulating him on the opening of the Bridge.

“Very fitting that foremost representatives of science should be associated with inauguration of modern engineering. Regret the founder of country is not alive to witness realization of part of his great ideal.” 

Entertainment was provided by the local Barotse Native Police Band:

“Music was supplied during the evening by the Barotse police band, dressed in Khaki uniforms with red turbans, not one of whom knows a note of music, and are taught by having the tunes whistled to them.” (Bulawayo Chronicle, 14 Sept 1905)



'Sun, Steel and Spray - A History of the Victoria Falls Bridge' has recently been republished in an expanded second edition, available to order online through Amazon.com and Amazon.co.uk - with shipping across the world.

See www.sunsteelandspray.com 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.


A selection of high quality reproduction vintage photographic prints using archive images published in 'Sun, Steel and Spray - A History of the Victoria Falls Bridge' and 'Corridors Through Time - A History of the Victoria Falls Hotel' are available to order online through Zambezi Image Company.


Friday, 9 September 2016

Africa main source market for Zimbabwe tourists

Harare – The Zimbabwe Tourism Authority (ZTA) says mainland Africa has emerged as the largest source market for tourist arrivals into Zimbabwe due to the increased visits by those visiting relatives and friends, leisure and to do business.
According to ZTA’s 2016 First Quarter Tourism Performance Overview, arrivals from mainland Africa increased by 11 percent to 380,790 from 343,644 arrivals in 2015. Most African countries (with the exception of South Africa, Zambia, the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) and Tanzania) recorded increases during the first three months of 2016.
Tourist arrivals from South Africa and the DRC fell marginally by two percent and four percent, respectively, while Zambia and Tanzania fell substantially by 16 percent and 20 percent, respectively.
Globally, Europe accounts for 27,000 arrivals and is the second largest source market for the country’s tourists followed by the Americas (22,000), Asia (14,004), Oceania (4,641) and Middle East 1,084.
On mainland Africa, South Africa is the greatest growing source market for tourist arrivals in Zimbabwe due to its proximity to the country and reliable road and air network between the two Southern African countries.
Statistics released by ZTA also show that 33,009 tourists visited Zimbabwe from South Africa in the period under review despite a 0.4 percent decline compared to the corresponding period in 2015.
This can be attributed to the firming United States dollar against the South African rand. South Africa is followed by Zambia, accounting for 75,447 tourist arrivals, Malawi (65,820), Mozambique (39,011), Botswana (7,886) and Tanzania (7,628).
The figures released by the authority showed that Zimbabwe registered growth in tourist arrivals from most African source markets except from the DRC, Tanzania and Zambia.
Commenting on the latest tourist arrivals data, ZTA said 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 (between Zimbabwe and Botswana) and Victoria Falls (between Zimbabwe and Zambia) border posts for single night stays and day trips, largely showing that they are avoiding staying in Zimbabwe,” it said.
“It means Zimbabwe is a secondary destination to them. If this phenomenon increases, it will further affect the performance of the sector as Victoria Falls is the hub of foreign tourism.”
It said implementation of robust marketing programmes by Zimbabwe in key source markets is required to lure more tourists.
“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,” the authority said.
Also with the deepening harsh economic environment in the country, ZTA said, the contribution of the domestic market is likely to decrease drastically.
In turn, this is going to further affect the ability of hotels to maintain good standards in their facilities as domestic market contributes significantly to their businesses (averagely 35 percent).
Overall tourist arrivals into Zimbabwe rose from 387,557 recorded in the first quarter of 2015 to 450,572 during the same period in 2016, representing a 1 percent growth. All source regions recorded growth except for Oceania.
Tourism experts contend that Zimbabwe can still attract more tourists into the country if it addresses issues which include numerous road blocks and high cost of tourism products.
Zimbabwe Tourism Authority Chief Executive Officer, Karikoga Kaseke, recently said that the country’s destination image was currently very low, as Harare was ranked number three by United States news channel, Cable News Network, as the least livable cities — worse than war-torn countries. The situation seems to have been further compounded by demonstration being spearheaded by opposition groups in the country in recent months.
Some of the major tourist attractions in Zimbabwe include the Hwange National Park, the Great Zimbabwe, Chinhoyi Caves, Mana Pools, Kariba Dam, the Eastern Highlands and Matopos.

Tour operators, rescue service providers ready for emergencies

ZIMBABWEAN tour operators and rescue service providers are well equipped and ready to attend to any adventure related emergencies involving tourists.

This is consistent with international best practices so as to keep the country a safe tourist destination.
Tourists undertake various adventure activities such as white water rafting, bungee jumping, canoeing, gorge swing, sunset cruises, wildlife rides and game drives on the Zambezi River or in the predator infested parks where they are exposed to danger.

ACE Air and Ambulance held a two day on-field training on Monday and Tuesday to equip tour guides and paramedics on first aid, reaction time and patient handling.

The training involving ACE paramedics, Shearwater and Wild Horizon guides and Zambezi Helicopters staff, took place in the gorges where a mock helicopter evacuation was done and a patient was airlifted from rapid Number 10 followed by another imitation of a plane crash at Helipad.

On Tuesday guides were trained on how to rescue victims on the gorge swing and bungee jump.
ACE Air and Ambulance operations director Mr Mark Smythe said the training was aimed at preparing Victoria Falls for any emergency and assure tourists of their safety.

“Remember we had a tram accident two years ago, which resulted in a massive outcry from the world and we thought it is important to assess our preparedness and assure the world that Zimbabwe is a safe destination,” said Mr Smythe.

He said ACE services are accessible to any victim in tourist resorts such as Victoria Falls.

“As a certified air ambulance and part of airport disaster management team in Harare and Victoria Falls, we are required to have continuous training. Victoria Falls has gone without this kind of preparedness for many years and what we are doing here is simulating helicopter rescue from any remote area to show how safe the country is.

“Our service is not for the rich only but anyone on medical aid. However, for this tourist zone and for the image of the country we will activate the service to anyone even if they do not have medical aid cover because our objective is to attract as many people into the country as possible by assuring them of safety during their stay as we are fully equipped,” said Mr Smythe.

ACE has six doctors and 46 medics and nurses, seven road ambulances and one air ambulance fully equipped with ICU equipment that can sustain life from a distance of eight hours from a hospital, Mr Smythe said.

The company was established two years ago and serves the whole of Sadc region especially in DRC, Mozambique, Zambia, Malawi, South Africa and Zimbabwe as well as Kenya.

A sister company Halsteds Aviation Corporation provides air ambulances.

Mr James Halsteds implored the importance of communication between guides and their respective offices for swift reaction.

Rafting Association of Zimbabwe past president Mr Cephas Moyo welcomed the training as an important part of adventure activities.

“The training equips us on how to approach a helicopter, which is very dangerous equipment what to do in crisis management, handling of patients, communication skills and team leading to make sure we all do the right thing. Sometimes we have injuries while rafting and rescue always differ with case situations,” he said.

Employers’ Association of Tourism and Safari Operators president Mr Clement Mukwasi said it is every operator’s wish for Zimbabwe to remain a destination of choice.

“We are now in our high season where numbers are massive and adventure activities carry risks. As much as we have not had serious incidents lately, we need to stay prepared through upgrading training and refresher courses if this destination is to maintain its status as a preferred destination in the world,” he said.

In 2012 a tourist fell off the bridge during bungee jumping and was swiftly rescued by swift paramedics and guides while one tourist died while 20 others were injured in 2014 when a tram collided with a National Railways of Zimbabwe train. The injured were airlifted to South Africa for treatment.

Source: Tour operators, rescue service providers ready for emergencies (8/9/16)