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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)