Leonard Ncube in Victoria Falls ZIMBABWE will be able to host about five international motor racing events per year in Victoria Falls once construction of a G1 standard Grand Prix arena is completed.
The sport is expected to attract hundreds of motor racing fans thereby boosting sport tourism in the country.
Feonirichi Pvt Ltd from Dubai who are funding the construction of the arena, were in the resort town yesterday for a ground-breaking ceremony presided over by Vice-President Costantino Chiwenga.
Th company has set aside $1,2 billion to construct the Grand Prix arena, convention centre, medical centre and shopping mall on a 271ha piece of land between Victoria Falls International Airport and Masue River.
A representative from Feonirichi, Prince Adebayo Bamidele Oni, said construction will start once all regulatory approvals are met.
“We actually intend to construct a G1 standard Grand Prix arena which will host various competitions. We intend to have at least four or five of these competitions every year which will attract tourists to Victoria Falls,” said Oni.
He said talks are ongoing with various motor racing bodies for approval.
“We are awaiting approval from various authorities for G1 standard arena and race track. We will not disappoint Zimbabwe because six banks are funding this project,” he said.
VP Chiwenga said Zimbabwe will score a first as the only African country to have Grand Prix after the sport was stopped in South Africa in 1985.
“The motor racing events are geared to attract, not only local, but international tourists hence we need more hotels. Victoria Falls already occupies the top position of adrenalin capital of the world and bringing Grand Prix here is another feather in the cap,” said VP Chiwenga.
“Motor racing is a risky but heart-throbbing pastime for those who have no fear for death. It has been alien to Africa after the Grand Prix in South Africa was shut down in 1985 and Feonirichi has brought it back to Africa making Zimbabwe the only appropriate gateway for sporting and leisure tourism,” he said.
The VP said Government was committed to the project and more than 8 000 jobs will be created during construction.
Victoria Falls mayor Sifiso Mpofu has been vocal about the need for the local authority to partner investors to build sporting facilities to attract international competitions.
He expressed gratitude to the investor and said the local authority will fully support the project.
The Zimbabwe Rugby Union has already engaged council to upgrade Chinotimba Stadium into a multi-discipline sport facility.
Zimbabwe Cricket was allocated land to construct a 10 000-seater stadium in Victoria Falls about four years ago, although nothing has materialised.
All efforts are aimed at developing sport tourism and bring world events to Victoria Falls.
Victoria Falls is one of the world’s most preferred destinations but is failing to attract world sporting events because of lack of facilities
In August last year, World Chess Federation president Kirsan Nikolayevich IIyumzhinov said Zimbabwe was likely to host the Chess World Cup in 2021. — @ncubeleon