Zambezi Book Company

Zambezi Book Company
Discover the history of the Victoria Falls with the Zambezi Book Company -

Thursday, 19 September 2019

Fuel shortages, power cuts cripple tourism industry, Zimbabwe

THE prevailing fuel shortages and prolonged power cuts have become the major bottlenecks crippling the growth of the tourism industry.
Tourism industry players who attended last week’s Sanganai/Hlanganani Expo in Bulawayo, complained about fuel shortages and incessant power cuts. They said power cuts have increased cost of doing business as they have to spend more on alternatives. Those who have invested in generators cried foul over inadequate diesel supply.
In an interview at the close of the conference, Tourism Business Council of Zimbabwe (TBCZ) chief executive officer, Mr Paul Matamisa, buttressed the concerns.
“Fuel shortage in the country is so far a major handicap to the growth of the tourism sector. The availability of fuel is really not up to standard if we are looking at tourism,” he said.
“The flow of traffic if people come into Zimbabwe, they aren’t coming to stay in Bulawayo or Harare or the major cities. They want to go to tourist attraction sites like Victoria Falls, Nyanga, and Great Zimbabwe.
“We have to make sure that we create service stations, which are going to be perpetually well provided with fuel, not a question of when you get there (filling station), maybe, because tourists don’t make a journey on a maybe basis.”
As such, Mr Matamisa implored Government to create ever green service stations to support industry operations and movements to various centres by tourists. Asked about how the tourism sector was coping on account of fuel shortages being experienced across the country, Mr Matamisa said:
“Players in the tourism sector are presently running from one service station to another in search of fuel and this is not good for the growth and development of the tourism business as more business hours are being lost.
“So, what we are simply saying is that we require people to have fuel for the business as well and not just for the travellers but the business that is supporting the travellers. If the businesses that facilitate tourist movements don’t have fuel then, there is a challenge”.
TBCZ projects that Zimbabwe’s tourist arrivals will this year grow by a minimum of 10 percent from 2,6 million tourists that visited the country last year. The anticipated growth trajectory in tourist arrivals is on the back of events such as Sanganai/Hlanganani World Tourism Expo as well as Zimbabwe’s participations at tourism indabas held in other countries such as South Africa and Berlin, German where local players have packaged and marketed the country’s tourism products to international visitors.
Mr Matamisa said they were also pleased that Government has acceded to their request to extend rebates on imported tourism equipment.
“In that regard, we would like to see more of all the tourism sectors being given the rebate facility so that we help them to facilitate growth in those other sectors, which currently do not have rebates.
“For instance, car hire companies have motor vehicles as their main mode of business and we need to assist them so that they are also able to procure up to date and standard vehicles that will be used by tourists.
“We are happy that Government acceded to our request for the coaches and buses for the tour operators.
“They are now in the ring but there are still many other players, restaurants for instance, they need new equipment and so on to upgrade their facilities and all that is required for them to improve business in their sector,” he said.
In the 2019 fiscal policy statement, Finance and Economic Development Minister Professor Mthuli Ncube proposed a rebate of duty on 75 new buses with a carrying capacity of eight to 55 passengers including the driver for the tourism industry.

Sunday, 15 September 2019

Old Mutual to construct ‘massive’ hotel in Vic Falls

The country’s largest financial services group, Old Mutual Zimbabwe Limited, is geographically diversifying its properties with a massive hotel development in the resort town of Victoria Falls.

The development, which will see a construction of a hotel and conference centre, is also in line with supporting the tourism industry, which is the main economic activity for Victoria Falls.

Group chief executive officer Jonas Mushosho told The Sunday Mail Business that tourism is an integral part of the economic agenda, and the sector has been identified as one of the low- hanging fruits that Zimbabwe should take advantage of for growth.

As a major tourism destination in the country, which is also one of the seven wonders of the world, Victoria Falls will always be an ideal investment area, creating scope for the new hotel and conference development.
“In Victoria Falls, we are looking at both a hotel and conference centre,” said Mr Mushosho in an interview on the sidelines of the group’s financial results presentation.
“We are diversifying geographically, a lot of our properties have been concentrated in big centres like Harare and Bulawayo, but we believe there are other areas of interest and economic activity, so we have diversified into Hwange, Victoria Falls and into Ngezi.
“Victoria Falls is major tourism destination and we believe that it is important to develop an ecosystem that supports the tourism; therefore, our developments and investments there are part and parcel of supporting that ecosystem.
“Tourism in Vic Falls is an important part of what’s happening in the country,” he said.
The development of new hotel facility will also support the anticipated growth in the sector.
Although the finer details of the developments, like capex, size of the facilities, as well as the specific timelines, Mr Mushosho said initial work was already under way.
He said: “We are going through various studies and doing alignment with other investors to make sure that our development is in line with that ecosystem, a lot of work is currently underway.”
The new hospitality facility will also help room capacity in the resort town, as well as in the country as a whole.
The whole of Zimbabwe has less rooms as compared to Sandton, in Johannesburg alone.
Currently, Victoria Falls’ hotel room capacity stands at 1 128 rooms, while major centres like Harare and Bulawayo have 1 628 and 370 respectively.

Friday, 13 September 2019

Batoka chiefs welcome the Litunga

His Majesty the Litunga, King of Barotseland, Imwiko II has arrived in Livingstone to grace the 5th Zambezi International Regatta scheduled to take place on the 14th of September.
On hand to receive him as his aeroplane touched down on Wednesday afternoon, 11th September 2019, were several Batoka chiefs, among them, their Royal Highnesses Chief Chikanta and Chiefteness Sekute of Kalomo district, covering Dundumwezi and Kazungula districts respectively.
The chiefs were at the Harry Mwaanga Nkumbula International Airport alongside the Provincial Minister, Edify Haamukala, to welcome the Litunga who is in the tourist capital for an official royal visit to grace the International Regatta and South investment Expo at the invitation of the Provincial leadership and the government of Zambia.
Batoka, now largely the Southern Province of Zambia, was once a District of Barotseland and its people continue to enjoy a very special relationship with the King of Barotseland.
And the Litunga was accorded the full customary royal salute, known as ‘Ku showelela’, as he disembarked from the Zambia Air Force (ZAF) aeroplane, after which he and his entourage proceeded to greet thousands of royal enthusiasts who had been waiting for his arrival at the royal pavilion especially set up for the occasion of His Majesty’s royal visit in the tourist capital.
As His Majesty entered the royal pavilion in his characteristic majestic walk, known as ‘Ku tamboka’, he was treated to more royal salutations from all his royalists in unison, after which the spectacular ‘Ngomalume’, a special dance for men and warriors, was performed to welcome the King of Barotseland.
The Litunga’s entourage aboard the Zambia Air Force (ZAF) plane, which touched down at Harry Mwaanga Nkumbula International Airport at 15:08 hours Wednesday afternoon, included his Prime Minister, Mukela Manyando, and Richard Kapita, who is Zambia’s Provincial Minister to Barotseland - now officially known as the Western Province of Zambia, District Commissioners and some chiefs and Induna from Barotseland.
Meanwhile, the Livingstone City Council has mounted the Litunga and Barotseland’s Royal Flag alongside the Zambia National Flag to symbolise His Majesty’s presence in the capital as the city comes to life with festivity in the week ahead.
On Friday, the 13th of September, 2019, the King and his royal entourage of about 350 royalists will perform a traditional ceremony called Kupuwana, at which the Barotse Royal Establishment (BRE) will paddle their royal boats and barges for a flotilla in Kuomboka like manoeuvres on the mighty Zambezi River.
Although similar to Kuomboka, the Kupuwana ceremony is a distinct water ceremony the King of Barotseland undertakes when on an official or ceremonial tour of duty, different from the annual Kuomboka or Kufuluhela festivals.
Consequently, alternative but equally spectacular royal barges, such as the Indila, are used for the voyage in the place of the Nalikwanda and the Notila royal barges that are the main features during the Kuomboka water festival and its reverse voyage, Kufuluhela.
In recorded history, this will be the third time that the Litunga of Barotseland has travelled to Livingstone to perform the Kupuwana procession on the incredible Zambezi River, the only other time being in 1925 when King Yeta III came to meet with the Prince of Wales and the 1947 royal journey undertaken by King Imwiko I.
His Majesty, the Litunga is in Livingstone to grace the 5th Zambezi International Regatta and also mark the beginning of the Southern Province EXPO.
The Regatta starts on 14th September 2019 which, in the next days, will see the Alumni from Oxford and Cambridge, men and women crews, battling it out on the Zambezi River against their South African challengers.
This year’s festival is an International Centenary Rowing Regatta and White Water Kayaking which will allow both attendees and participants to experience the rich and unique traditional music, culture, drama, street performances, arts, crafts, fairs and workshops.
Universities like Oxford, Cambridge, Rhodes and Wits will participate and manoeuvre their way through hippos and crocs with the spray of the falls as a backdrop.
In 1910, Livingstone also hosted the World Professional Sculling Championships between World Champion from New Zealand and the British champion.
Between 1910 and 1964 several important regattas have taken place from the Zambezi Boat Club involving Zambians, British, South African and local clubs.
1996 saw a visit to the Victoria Falls by Richard Fishlock, an ex-British Olympian and Oxford rower, as a result, an idea for the first Oxford Cambridge Regatta was discussed. It was developed by Peter Jones of The River Club, an established lodge on the banks of the Zambezi, on the Zambian side.
However, the first modern Zambezi International Regatta took place in 2004, followed by 2005, 2007 and 2010, and all these regattas were attended by Oxford and Cambridge Alumni, and leading South African Universities, men and women, from Rhodes, University of Johannesburg and Cape Town, and once in 2007 by Brown University, USA.
Fishlock and Jones remain the event organisers with a new partner, Lee-Anne Singh.
2019 will see the fifth event take place, as the showpiece of a week of sporting celebration to mark the Southern Province Investment Expo.

Monday, 9 September 2019

Santonga Project still on the cards

THE Santonga “Zoo” project, which put Victoria Falls Town Council at loggerheads with animal activists and tourism players in the resort town, is still on the local authority’s plans, a situation which is likely to reignite the yesteryear flames.

The Santonga project was the brain child of Africa Albida Tourism which received environment impact assessment approval in 2007, but four years ago divided tourism players over whether or not it should go ahead.
Tourism players have vehemently opposed the project saying it would kill the enthusiasm in game drives, while residents fear it would close the animal corridors thereby increasing human-wildlife conflict in suburbs.
Faced with the outcry, the project was temporarily suspended, but there are fresh reports that council was mulling its resumption.
The situation is likely to put the local authority on the collision course with tourism players, animal conservationists and residents.
Victoria Falls town clerk, Ronnie Dube confirmed the project had gained traction.
“Let’s remove the zoo part of it. It’s not a zoo. The project is still in the pipeline. It had stopped because Zambezi Copters was supposed to move away from the place they operate from, near Elephant Hills Hotel. We have gained traction in having Zambezi Copters move to a new site, but being held back because the new site has no facilities such as water and sewer reticulation,” Dube said.
Victoria Falls Residents Association chairperson, Morgan Gazza Ncube said residents were still against the project which they said would lead to loss of jobs downstream.
“The residents are opposed to the project and have not changed their position on that. However, if the project implementers are saying they are still pushing for the project we will consult the people. I do not know whether they are still putting up logistics for its implementation,” Gaza Ncube said.
Employers Association for Tourism and Safari Operators president Clement Mukwasi said they were waiting to see what happens and then they would respond accordingly.
“We are against the establishment of a zoo in the resort town, but we are waiting to see their plans. At the moment we can’t say much. We will wait to react accordingly after seeing how they are progressing with the plan,” Mukwasi said.
Africa Albida Tourism chairperson, Dave Glynn has in the past defended the project saying it was not a zoo, but should be termed “Santonga, the Victoria Falls story” and be described as an edutainment park. He said the project would not lead to loss of jobs, but would create 150 direct jobs, adding that the World Tourism Organisation research showed a multiplier effect of 10 times, so they anticipated 1 500 downstream jobs.

Saturday, 7 September 2019

Vic Falls an expensive destination

SOUTH African travel and tourism executives have lamented the high cost of holidaying in the Victoria Falls, saying it is one of the most expensive tourism destinations in the world.

The executives told businessdigest during the recent 2019 Africa Tourism Leadership Forum (ATLF) and Awards in Durban that Zimbabwe should try and make Victoria Falls affordable so that Africans can also marvel at one of the Seven Natural Wonders of the World.

The executives said in the spirit of promoting intra-Africa trade, African countries should devise strategies that will allow its people to travel across borders to visit tourism destinations.
The three-day meeting, whose theme was “stimulating intra-Africa Travel through thought leadership” was attended by chief executives in travel, aviation, hospitality and tourism sectors.
ATLF is a Pan-African dialogue platform that brings together key stakeholders of Africa’s travel, tourism, hospitality and aviation sectors to network, share insights and devise strategies for intra-Africa travel and tourism growth across the continent, whilst enhancing the brand equity of “Destination Africa”.

Travelstart senior commercial manager Linda Balme said it costs under R10 000 for South Africans to travel to Thailand, Bali or other such destinations including flights and accommodation for seven nights at a three-star hotel. She said for a four-star hotel it costs around R12 000, while a special holiday package to Victoria Falls for three nights costs more a South African one.

“That does not include any excursions which the Thailand Tourism Board will throw in. Coming from outside, it is important that we make airfare affordable, accommodation affordable, even if it is in the low season of travel so that we allow Africans to travel internally,” she said.

“Just give us better deals and we will fill rooms. It is better to have a hotel that is full than one that is 60% with euros and pounds. Rather fill it and it will generate more tourism and it will be more beneficial for everyone and it will keep trade going between the two countries and the continent as a whole. We need more airlines supporting those routes and more locals visiting Victoria Falls.”

In South Africa, 74,4% of tourism comes from within Africa. World Travel Tourism Council regional director-Africa Jillian Blackheard said: “As more Africans travel within our own countries and the continent, the low-hanging benefits for the travel and tourism sector are negated trends of seasonality, increased occupancy based on short lead time sales, tourism product diversification and demand outside limited traditional tourism regions and increase in tourism supply chain and demand for local circular economy.”

In another interview, Steward Travel coordinator and national tour guide PJ Mulaudzi said the Victoria Falls was no doubt the most expensive destination in Southern Africa. “We cannot tell them what to charge. But when you go to Zambia, things are far much cheaper. You have a situation where even airlines are taking advantage of the Zimbabwean issue. On any given day it is 30-40% cheaper to fly out of Livingstone to Johannesburg than it is to fly out of Victoria Falls,” he said.

He said what tourists pay at a five-star hotel in South Africa is the same amount of what they pay for a bed and breakfast (BnB) in Victoria Falls. “The hotel in Sun City is R2 500 a night and in Victoria Falls, you would have paid R10 000 for that kind of hotel,” Mulaudzi pointed out.
He said Zimbabwe needs to invest in upgrading its facilities in Victoria Falls otherwise it will continue to lag behind Zambia.

“I will give an example. The development in Victoria Falls is no way near what is happening in Zambia. The excuse they always come up with on the Zimbabwean side is that it is a national heritage site so they cannot do developments. Livingstone is also one. You go to the falls from the Zambian side and the hotel key is your entrance fees. You don’t pay not even a cent if you stay in a hotel there. If you are a non-resident, you pay US$20.”

Mulaudzi added that: “On the Zimbabwean side, which has 70% of the Falls, you pay US$30, which is a fair price. But the interesting thing is that on the Zambian side, they have state-of-the-art facilities –the toilets, the craft market. You check into any hotel in Zambia, you get ponchos (raincoats) complementary of the hotel. On the Zimbabwean side, you can stay in a US$1 000-per-night hotel, they don’t even give you anything.

“You go to the Falls and you have to pay entrance fees. You pay US$30 to enter the Falls and the toilets they have there were built by David Livingstone himself in 1855. They cannot even upgrade their toilets. The toilet paper you find, if you are lucky to find any, is the cheapest toilet paper but you have paid US$30.”

He said a visitor also has to pay US$1 for a one-quarter page leaflet with information about the Falls and a map of the trail in addition to the entrance fees. “It is a matter of they just want to take, take and take and they don’t want to give anything back. There is a need to intervene,” Mulaudzi said.
He said there was also need to relook the payment structure at the Matobo National Park and the levy for the helicopter rides.

“You go to Matobo National Park and US$15 per person to enter. The only thing you go to Matobo to see is Cecil John Rhodes’ grave and the bushmen paintings. You have paid US$15 at the gate and, when you get to the paintings, there is someone there waiting for you to pay US$10 to see the paintings. You go to the grave, there is someone waiting there to pay to US$10 to see the grave. So why did I pay the entrance fee because it is only the grave and the paintings they have got?” he said.

“Go and check the toilets they have at the paintings. The seats are broken, there are holes and it doesn’t flush. There are these 200 or 500-litre drums of water and you have to take the water and put in the toilet and they are charging you US$10. If they want to charge that money, why not charge one entrance fees at the main gate? Again, they just want to take, take and take and not give anything.”
On the helicopter rides, he said: “The helicopter ride is US$150 and when you get to the helipad, there is someone waiting there and they want US$15 for Parks fees. Why not just charge US$165 and sort each other out later? You can’t even pay it by credit card, they want hard cash.”

He said the Zimbabwe National Parks and state tourism departments were to blame for this.
“The people I have a problem with are the national parks and the tourism authority, which are under the government. They must look more at promoting the destination more than taking and taking. At Victoria Falls if you charge me US$30 and I have clean facilities, I have no problems with paying. I just don’t understand, with the US$30, why they do not provide quality toilet paper, renovate or just buy new seats, which cost just R500 or R600, which is nothing compared to what they are charging,” he said.

Source: Vic Falls an expensive destination (06/09/19)

Friday, 30 August 2019

Vic Falls seeks load shedding exemption

VICTORIA FALLS councillors have called for the resort town to be exempted from Zesa load shedding — which has also affected water supplies — and left the tourism hub with no electricity.

The town has gone for weeks without water due to the rolling power cuts, prompting the council to supply water to residents using bowsers.
The situation has affected tourism players such as hotels and lodges which cater for both international and domestic tourists.
Ward 1 councillor Margaret Varley, whose area of jurisdiction encompasses most of the resort town’s tourism players, wrote to the chairperson of the Parliamentary Committee on Energy, Gabbuza Joel Gabuza calling for the load shedding exemption.
“As the Parliamentary chair of Energy, we are begging you to help us here in Victoria Falls. No electricity here means no water. Council has made moves to get a dedicated Zesa line for the water take out point on the Zambezi River, the water plant and also the two main reservoirs so that the town water is not affected by load shedding. However there seems to be a lot of talk and not much action,” wrote Varley on Monday.
Valley said Victoria Falls was the face of the country’s tourism industry and there was need to take advantage of tourist activities that brought in foreign
currency, so the town deserved special treatment.
She added that lack of water supplies affected hotels and lodges, schools, clinics and hospitals.
“We are also looking at drilling boreholes around town. Imagine boreholes and water distribution from a fire engine when we live on the edge of one of the
biggest rivers in Africa? All because of Zesa load shedding. Please use your influence to ensure that this matter is treated with the urgency it deserves and a
solution to this water crisis is found before it’s too late,” said Valley.
Ward 6 councillor Ephias Mambume said it was logical for a place of strategic economic importance like Victoria Falls to be exempted from load shedding.
“It’s the tourism capital of Zimbabwe and a special economic zone. The gross domestic product (GDP) of Victoria Falls’ local economy is a significant part of
the national GDP especially in real dollar terms. It generates mostly forex,” he said.
“An outbreak of typhoid or cholera can potentially cost the economy millions of the greenback in terms of tourism revenue and permanently dent the image of the

Saturday, 24 August 2019

Wood poachers invade Vic Falls game parks

RECURRENT power cuts and the recent steep tariff hikes have accelerated the deforestation of Victoria Falls’ two major game parks as residents poach firewood, a cheaper substitute to electricity, community leaders have said.

The situation is feared to have ripple effects on the tourism sector, thereby affecting revenue inflows to council and safari operators.
The resort town is surrounded by two parks, Chamabondo to the east and the Victoria Falls Game Park to the west, which are popular for game drives.
However, the two parks are now under threat as residents have resorted to uncontrolled tree-cutting.
Victoria Falls, like most other towns, has been hit hard by endless power cuts lasting up to eight hours.
The situation in the resort town is worrying community leaders and safari operators as the continued cutting of trees in the game parks threatens the town’s mainstay – tourism.
Victoria Falls Residents Association chairperson, Morgan Gaza Dube yesterday said the rate at which the parks were being deforested was cause for concern.
“There has been rampant deforestation of the games parks as residents seek firewood. Actually, the failure to provide electricity by the power utility has already accelerated deforestation. This has been coupled by the recent hike
in tariffs and it’s worrisome,” Dube said.
His sentiments were echoed by ward 6 councillor, Ephias Mambume (MDC Alliance), who said underfunding of anti-poaching interventions had not saved the situation.
“The current load-shedding plus the proposed limits will only exacerbate the already dire situation, where residents are depending on wood as a source of energy for cooking. This is also coupled by the fact that anti-poaching
interventions were severely underfunded. Victoria Falls game parks will inevitably be affected as people poach for firewood,” Mambume said.

$23 million hotel set for Vic Falls

A total of $23 million dollars has been set aside for the construction of a 238-bedded five-star hotel in Victoria Falls which is expected to commence during the fourth quarter, an investment set to enhance the competitiveness of the destination.

An environmental impact assessment report on the multi-million-dollar hospitality property, The Mist Hotel is set to be finalised during the first two weeks of September to pave way for the construction of the five-star hotel in Zimbabwe’s tourism capital.

Environment Guardians Services Senior Consultant, Michael Montana said commendable progress has been made in coming up with the assessment report, adding that the investment project is set to improve the attractiveness of the destination.

“We are 90% is as far as the environmental impact assessment is concerned and we are here in Victoria Falls to engage the critical stakeholders,” he said.

The multi-million-dollar property will offer accommodation and conferencing services.

The investors have since expressed their long-term commitment to the Zimbabwean market and are confident of the positive prospects of the destination.

Source: $23 million hotel set for Vic Falls (23/08/19)

Sunday, 18 August 2019

Multi-million dollar solar farm for Vic Falls

The Victoria Falls tourism industry has endorsed the proposed setting up of a multi-million dollar Solar Farm project as critical in alleviating power shortages and ensuring that the resort town joins the list of other renowned green destinations.

Faced with serious power outages which have resulted in most hotels relying on generators, the Victoria Falls tourism industry has stepped up efforts to come up with a lasting solution to the power challenges.

A recent stakeholders meeting convened by the Zimbabwe Tourism Authority (ZTA) saw tourism players throwing their weight behind the setting up of a multi-million dollar Victoria Falls solar farm.
Tourism Business Council of Zimbabwe Representative, Barbara Musariranwa and Victoria Falls Town Clerk, Ronnie Dube stressed the need to support and prioritise the speedy execution of the project.

We are excited by this all inclusive approach in addressing the power challenges and the industry we welcome the proposed solar farm project,” said Mr Dube.

ZTA Acting Chief Executive, Rita Lukukuma highlighted that adoption of alternative and sustainable energy sources for the tourism sector will be critical in transforming Victoria Falls into a green destination.

 “The solar project has a beautiful dimension of enhancing the status of the tourism quality in this town. There are people now who will visit a place just because it is environmentally friendly,” she said.

A local financial institution has already indicated its willingness to finance the solar power project while power utility, ZESA Holdings is working on upgrading the transmission infrastructure around the resort town and completion of the Mkosana substation project which is currently at 50%.

Source: Multi-million dollar solar farm for Vic Falls (17/08/19)

Wednesday, 14 August 2019

Another upmarket lodge for Vic Falls

Leonard Ncube in Victoria Falls
A NEW up-market lodge is set to open in Victoria Falls targeting tourists who want a quiet environment and interaction with the wild.
A total of 24 locals will be employed at the 12-bed tented Tsowa Safari Island, which is located in the Zambezi National Park. It is owned by Isibindi Africa Lodges founded by Mr Brett Gehren and offers guests the chance to appreciate the wilderness in Victoria Falls from the comfort of the six tents.
Isibindi Africa Lodges spokesperson Ms Melanie Rosettenstein said the facility strives to also empower locals through employment and affordable rates.
“Tsowa Safari Lodge is an ideal spot from which to explore the area’s many attractions. The target market is the luxury eco-tourists and safari market and as with all Isibindi Lodges, we like to offer a great experience but always keeping our rates competitive so as to exceed expectations,” said Ms Rosettenstein.
She said their rates were affordable even to locals as a way of promoting domestic tourism. The main camp comprises tents, which are about 20 metres apart with a stylish lounge and dining area, as well as two swimming pools and a firepit, all facing Zambezi River. Guests can watch the river glide by or view the abundant wildlife from every vantage point. 
In a statement, Mr Gehren said while the lodge is located remotely, it is accessible and easy to get to.
“It’s a great privilege and honour to have been awarded the concession to develop a camp on Tsowa Safari Island. As with all our lodges, every care and consideration has been taken to ensure our six eco-sensitive luxury tents have minimal environmental impact and blend into the stunning natural surroundings. 
“We’re confident that our guests will be delighted to know that they are journeying with purpose when they stay with Isibindi Africa,” he said.
The lodge is located centrally between Victoria Falls, Kasane in Botswana, Namibian border and Livingstone in Zambia. Isibindi Africa Lodges has other properties in South Africa’s KwaZulu
Natal namely Thonga Beach Lodge and Kosi Forest Lodge, both located in Isimangaliso Wetland Park and Rhino Ridge Safari Lodge in Hluhluwe Imfolozi Park, all in KwaZulu Natal.
Mr Gehren said Isibindi Africa Lodges prides itself for investing across the region where a number of community programmes have been introduced.
In Victoria Falls the group has launched Isibindi Foundation, to uplift the community through conservation projects. The foundation was established this year to consolidate 23 years of community and conservation projects and to also create a purpose-driven entity to assist community initiatives.
With World Wildlife Fund (WWF) chairperson Mr Vusi Khanyile as its patron, it’s objective starts with allowing guests to be philanthropic travellers and to journey with purpose. 
Its programmes include helping rural schools with feeding programmes, financing additional support teachers and quarterly visits from external educationists so as to improve the resourcing of education institutions. — @ncubeleon

Wednesday, 31 July 2019

Zambia, Botswana to construct railway across Zambezi

Zambia and Botswana have signed a US $259m agreement to construct a 430km long railway to link the two countries across the Kazungula Bridge.
Zambia Railways Ltd and Botswana Railways’ boards resolved during a meeting held in Kasane to facilitate the construction of the lengthy line and a show of cooperation. According to Zambia Railways board chairperson Lubinda Linyama, construction of the project scheduled to begin soon after the 900-metre-long Kazungula bridge is completed and commissioned by June next year.
The railway project  dubbed, “Mosetse-Kazungula-Livingstone”, is aimed to reduce transit time and transportation costs for both the people and boost trade trade in the Southern African Development Community (SADC). The actual cost of the project will be established after undertaking a feasibility study.
“The project was proven feasible and as a quicker means of  transporting  goods and passengers in addition to roads to ease transportation problems and once completed will benefit all other countries in the 16-country-member region and bolster trade in real time,” said Mr. Lubinda.
“Zambia is up to date with its financial obligations for the construction of the Kazungula bridge which we are co- financing with Botswana to accelerate its completion,” he added.
Linyama also allayed fears that the bridge would not be complete in due course following rescheduling of the completion timetable but assured that the two countries were determined to ensure the project was completed as planned despite challenges faced in recent months.
“We are determined to undertake this (railway line) project despite the challenges that may arise.” said the board chairperson.

Tuesday, 30 July 2019

Victoria Falls lodge among Africa’s best

Leonard Ncube in Victoria Falls
A UNITED States magazine, Travel + Leisure, has named Victoria Falls Safari Lodge as the 5th top resort hotel in Africa, as Zimbabwe continues to make an impact on the tourism front.
Victoria Falls Safari Lodge is one of the many tourism facilities under the grand banner of leading hospitality group Africa Albida Tourism (AAT).
Travel + Leisure is a travel magazine based in New York with 4,8 million readers worldwide. It is published 12 times a year by Meredith Corporation. 
Its readers share their opinions of their travel experiences on the top hotels, resorts, cities, islands, cruise ships, spas, airlines and hotels are rated on their facilities, location, service, food and overall value.
This is the ranking in which Victoria Falls Safari Lodge came 5th after La Residence in Franschhoek of South Africa, Beyond Mnemba Island of Zanzibar in Tanzania, Beyond Sossusvlei Desert Lodge based in Namib-Naukluft National Park in Namibia and Birkenhead House, Hermanus also of South Africa, which ranked position 1 to 4 respectively.
The hotel based in the Zambezi National Park in the country’s prime resort town is the only Zimbabwean property that featured and scored 87,76 points for the month of July. AAT chief executive Mr Ross Kennedy said the group was thrilled to be among the best.
“Africa Albida Tourism is thrilled its flagship property Victoria Falls Safari Lodge has been named among Africa’s top five resort hotels by high profile US magazine, Travel +Leisure,” he said. 
“This accolade, coming in our 25th year of operating the Victoria Falls Safari Lodge, is so rewarding for every member of the Africa Albida Tourism team. It speaks to our consistency, constant upgrades and enhancements, quality of service delivery and hospitality along with the dedication and commitment of every person involved.”
Mr Kennedy said the hospitality group was grateful to every traveller and client that has stayed at the hotel. 
The awards are among the world’s best and the most prestigious in the travel industry with readers being the judges. 
AAT also runs several other properties such as the Victoria Falls Safari Club and Victoria Falls Safari Suites and lodges. 
A few months ago, international holiday rental search engine, HomeToGo, also named Zimbabwe among the top 10 trending destinations, ranking number six for United Kingdom-based tourists. 
The search engine said the destinations were chosen based on the year-on-year increases in searches in January 2019 compared to January 2018.
The country also won an award for the most sustainable tourist destination at the International Tourism Bourse in Germany and was also voted as the third must-visit destination after Sri Lanka and Germany. National Geographic has also acknowledged the country as one of the prime tourist destinations in the world. — @ncubeleon

Tuesday, 23 July 2019

The Royal Livingstone Victoria Falls Zambia Hotel by Anantara empowers women and supports sustainable farming

The Royal Livingstone Victoria Falls Zambia Hotel by Anantara is proudly proving that authentic luxury can be enriched by adopting a mindful and holistic approach to day-to-day operations. The property’s recent initiatives incorporate smallholders into the hotel’s procurement process as part of its drive to empower local communities through sustainability projects, ensuring they get a share of the thriving tourism economy.
Zambia, home to Mosi-oa-Tunya National Park and Victoria Falls, has seen tourism numbers climb steadily over the past years making it Zambia’s fastest-growing national economic sector. Yet, while the more established businesses have been reaping the benefits, the smallholders are being pushed out. Watch the ‘Beyond Horizons’ video to find out more about the projects and their successes so far on A successful social media campaign is helping to drive awareness about these inspirational sustainability projects with far-reaching benefits. 
Livingstone is home to around 300 smallholder farmers traditionally relying on roadside stand sales. More often than not, failing to make the sale, they have little choice but to turn to the profiteering middlemen. By launching a biweekly Smallholder Farmers’ Market at the hotel’s warehouse, The Royal Livingstone essentially cut out the middleman by guaranteeing to buy all of the crop directly from the smallholders, at a fair price. 
Zambia’s women farmers are no strangers to specialist produce, and the Maramba Women’s Mushroom Farm grows mushrooms that inspire world-class chefs. The farm was saved from closure by investment from The Royal Livingstone Hotel. The farm’s reach extends beyond specialist agriculture, by providing education, medication and support services to residents affected by HIV/AIDS. As a result of this initiative, 15 women are enabled to take care of 160 orphans, widows and vulnerable adults. 
At Nsongwe Women’s Farm - an indigenous fruit farm that employs more than 3,000 people – the Anantara team has trained the farm workers in sustainable agriculture techniques. Historically, even though women did much of the field work, men managed the marketing and sales of produce, seldom giving women access to earnings from production. The members have been trained in financial management and marketing principles and now sell most of their produce to local hotels and resorts through long-term contracts that ensure sustainability. Anyone can plant a seed, but not everyone has the skills needed to build and run a successful farming business like the Nsongwe Women’s Farm. 
Just as impactful is the Libuyu Women’s Peanut Butter Project empowering HIV-positive women by outfitting a peanut butter factory. From ensuring that the production process meets local health and safety standards, to designing and supplying uniforms and running regular sales and marketing workshops, the project has been instrumental in making local women self-reliant and confident in their future. Changing the lives of women daily, one jar of peanut butter at a time.
Taking the message global, Anantara Hotels & Resorts considered various ways of sharing the success story that is Royal Livingstone’s CSR programme. The result is the brand’s “Beyond Horizons” mini documentaries, available on and supported by a successful social media campaign, showcasing the breadth and variety of charitable and sustainability work carried out by Anantara properties worldwide.
Anantara Hotels & Resorts constantly reinforces its commitment towards environmental, social and cultural conservation. Special consideration is given to employing and empowering communities, and wherever possible, sustainable products and services are sourced locally. Around the world, Anantara Hotels & Resorts works in partnership with local communities and promote cultural awareness amongst guests by integrating indigenous culture into everyday experiences. 
Transporting viewers to some of the world’s most stunning yet fragile destinations, “Beyond Horizons” is an honest gaze into the environmental challenges faced by local communities as well as an invitation to start a dialogue about the urgent need to act as a united front to tackle them.
Shot on location, each of the videos in the Beyond Horizons series are narrated by Anantara CSR champions who share stories of progressive initiatives carried out at properties around the world through Anantara led charitable organisations such as the Thai based Golden Triangle Asian Elephant Foundation.

Wednesday, 17 July 2019

Boma gets fresh look

The Boma – Dinner & Drum Show has a fresh look and feel, with its new décor capturing the style of the traditional Zimbabwean cooking hut, while the kitchen has been rebuilt and modernised and other structural enhancements made.
The US$250 000 refurbishment – completed last month – was done to keep pace with the growing popularity of this “must-do” Victoria Falls dining and entertainment experience, which opened its doors 27 years ago.
Africa Albida Tourism (AAT) chief executive, Ross Kennedy, said: “The levels of business experienced in 2018, coupled with the growth in the previous two years, led us to make the appropriate investment decisions to equip The Boma for the next five to 10 years.
“Keeping pace with the latest equipment and service delivery expectations, whilst maintaining the tastes, sights and sounds of The Boma – Dinner & Drum Show, were key factors in this major project,” he said.
“The machine that delivers The Boma experience has been modernised.  We set out to update The Boma without detracting from its essence.”
The main kitchen, which guests don’t see, and the main cookhouse, were gutted and rebuilt, new equipment installed, and structural changes and enhancements made to the serving areas, such as new granite surfaces and refridgeration of the salad and dessert bars.
Interior designer Belinda Jones said the concept for the décor came from the traditional cooking huts, and it was an amalgam of different Zimbabwean tribes.
“The Boma staff love it, because it reminds them, especially the entrance, of their grandmothers’ huts,” Jones said.
“It’s where the woman’s cooking utensils are proudly displayed. The traditional art form of decorating the walls and shelves with bright pigment goes back a while, but it is now being revived as a new art form,” she said.
“The women translate the rhythms of their lives into abstract patterns, but now include motifs from nature, both floral as well as animals,” she said.
AAT operates a portfolio of properties in Victoria Falls – Victoria Falls Safari Lodge, Victoria Falls Safari Club, Victoria Falls Safari Suites, Lokuthula Lodges and The Boma – Dinner & Drum Show, as well as Ngoma Safari Lodge in Chobe, Botswana.
Source: Boma gets fresh look (16/07/19)

Tuesday, 16 July 2019

Zim goes a gear up in drive to boost tourism

The world over, tourism is regarded a low hanging fruit that brings more attention to the entire orchard (country), as people search for more and more juicy fruits.
Zimbabwe is endowed with an array of tourism tapestries — from man-made up to those sired by natural phenomena — all these have the potential to attract investors who come first as tourists and then later as investors.
It is fact, not fiction, that many investors visit places as tourists first, fall in love with the place and what it offers and return as investors.
From the world famed Victoria Falls to the craggy magnificence of the Eastern Highlands, the rolling moorlands, high mountain heath, pristine wildlife, spooky caves, gothic ancient stone-without-mortar cities and a welcoming people, among others, Zimbabwe is a tourist attraction with something for everyone.
Zimbabwe and Britain share a lot of history from the days of colonialism to independence and promoting tourism development and investment between the two countries should not be difficult given that Zimbabwe has decided to rejoin the Commonwealth and has done everything in its powers to do so assiduously.
After the long hiatus in which the country was isolated through travel warnings and travels vetoes from the United States of America and the European Union in the old dispensation, Zimbabwe under the new dispensation has set its eyes on international re-engagement, and tourism had been identified as one of the major pillars of the country’s economic turnaround programme.
Tourism has further been recognised as a vital cog in the country’s Transitional Stabilisation Programme (TSP) and the attainment of Vision 2030.
Again, tourism has been identified as critical to Zimbabwe’s rejoining the Commonwealth, an organisation of former colonies of Great Britain.
It is in line with this new trajectory that Zimbabwe is taking its tourism tapestries to the United Kingdom, as it moves for an all-inclusive political and economic re-engagement.
Environment, Tourism and Hospitality Industry Minister Prisca Mupfumira and Zimbabwe Tourism Authority acting chief executive Rita Likukuma are in the UK to market Zimbabwe’s tourism tapestries as part of the country’s broader re-engagement.
The two are known for their negotiating skills, vision and resilience. They have planned roadshows and workshops throughout the UK.
The United Kingdom National Statistics Office (NSO) 2018 Report stated that there were 123 000 adult Zimbabweans in the United Kingdom who include 53 000 men and 70 000 women.
Among this huge Diaspora community are many equally committed to raise the profile of the country through partnerships or to promote the country to their families, friends and workmates.
Henceforth, this new Diaspora roadshow that will be in collaboration with ZIM-Thrive 2020.
Their visit comes hard on the heels of another top-drawer visit to the UK by Foreign Affairs Minister Sibusiso Moyo last week.
Of interest is that Zimbabwe is marketing its tourism tapestries based on its homegrown assets, the wonderful people and culture, rich history and heritage, the majestic Victoria Falls, the Great Zimbabwe, pristine wildlife and nature, the mystique of the Eastern Highlands, the mythical Kariba and the Mighty Zambezi River.
Critical to note is that President Mnangagwa has declared “Zimbabwe is now open for business” and has persistently, consistently and passionately enunciated this position as he articulates his vision.
Indeed, the tourism economy was closed for business, but the new leadership which ushered in the new political dispensation has done everything in its power to bring back lost glory in tourism.
Also critical is the fact that the Government recognises the tourism industry as one of the key economic sectors with the potential to increasingly contribute to national economic turnaround.
According to World Travel and Tourism Council (WTTC), which is the world body of the private sector, slightly over 300 000 people are employed either directly, indirectly or induced by the tourism sector in Zimbabwe.
That is not a small figure and it could be increased with new investment opportunities in Zimbabwe.
The sector lost out over the past two decades in terms of investment and tourist arrivals, hence the need to promote its growth and development.
It has been made clear that there is a serious investment opportunity in the accommodation sector in Zimbabwe as the country holds slightly more than 12 000 hotel rooms against a growing demand.
It should be noted that Zimbabwe has a less diversified product base and underinvested in terms of accommodation facilities (low- cost through to luxury facilities), convention centres and exhibition parks and entertainment facilities.
The envisaged tourism growth going into 2030 calls for increased tourism investment.
The increased tourism investment opportunities are expected to be unlocked through, among other issues, the following: the National Tourism Master Plan, National Tourism Sector Strategy, Vision 2025: National Tourism Recovery and Growth Strategy, the Victoria Falls Master Plan, the Kariba Master Plan and the Tokwe-Mukosi Master Plan.
This can further be enhanced by the nine Tourism Development Zones (TDZs), namely Beitbridge-Gwanda-Shashe-Limpopo; Masvingo-Great Zimbabwe-Chiredzi-Gonarezhou; Matopos; Kariba-Zambezi Valley; Mudzi, Lake Chivero-Manyame and the Midlands, that have already been designated.
Through Statutory Instrument 50 of 2006, tourism businesses in the designated TDZs are allowed to import capital goods duty free
The TDZs also come with the following tax breaks:
Duty exemption on specified capital goods imported for use in TDZs
Tax on the income of an operator is as follows: First five years of operation — 0 percent, second five years of operation (15 percent), third five years of operation (20 percent) and thereafter normal rates of corporate tax apply.
This is a big investment incentive.
The Government has also come up with the Special Economic Zones Act (Chapter 14:34) that has been coupled by special incentives provided for by SI 59 of 2017 to attract new investments into the Special Economic Zones (SEZ).
In that vein, Government has selected three locations for piloting the SEZ concept — Victoria Falls, Harare and Bulawayo.
The special incentives include rebate of duty on raw materials, intermediate products, equipment and machinery and trinkets that go with SEZ project status.
In terms of investment in conservation, the Government has come up with the Transfroniter Conservation Project.
In that case, Zimbabwe is a signatory to six Trans-Frontier Conservation Areas (TFCAs), which also provide opportunities for, especially in lodges and safari camps.
These TFCAs are Limpopo-Shashe (now Greater Mapungubwe); Kavango-Zambezi (KAZA); Lower Mana Pools; Zimbabwe-Mozambique-Zambia (ZIMOZA); Chimanimani and Greater Limpopo which include Gonarezhou National Park.
Both countries stand to benefit from renewed working together in tourism, development, marketing and investment.