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Friday 23 September 2005

Statue of explorer Emil Holub unveiled in Livingstone, Zambia

It's been 150 years since David Livingstone discovered a waterfall which the local natives called "the smoke that thunders" and christened it "Victoria Falls" after his queen. But the first ever map of the great falls was drawn by a Czech explorer, Dr Emil Holub who arrived at Victoria Falls twenty years later. To commemorate the event, a bust of Emil Holub has been unveiled in Livingstone, the Zambian city bearing the name of Holub's predecessor and role model.

Emil Holub would probably have become a family doctor somewhere in rural Bohemia had he not come across a German edition of David Livingstone's diaries. From then on - as he writes in his memoirs - he became obsessed with Africa. He set off for the first time in 1872 and three years later he stood in awe before Victoria Falls.

"Even the greatest literary masters would certainly have fallen silent facing such majestic and ever-changing scenery. A human being is totally incapable of describing Mother Nature where she performs with such might as at the Victoria Falls - there, Man just has to adore her!" Emil Holub wrote about the famous Victoria Falls, which he visited twice, in 1875 and ten years later, accompanied by his newlywed wife. A bust of Emil Holub was unveiled this week outside the Livingstone Museum - which, incidentally, was headed by another Czech, Ladislav Holy, between 1968 and 1972.

The event was organised by the Czech Embassy in Zambia. Consul Marie Imbrova.

"This year we are celebrating 130 years since the first ever map of Victoria Falls was drawn by Emil Holub. Naturally, we were looking for a way to make that fact widely known, especially in Zambia and Zimbabwe. We agreed with the Livingstone Museum that we would raise the statue outside the premises and they would show an exhibition on Emil Holub's stays there and about what he did for this region." The bust was made by a local artist, Last Mahwahwa, according to period photographs supplied by the Czech side.

On his African travels, Emil Holub collected everything from ethnographical exhibits to animals, from birds to rock paintings. "Of all my curiosities, of which I brought back forty cases closely packed, I considered my ethnographical specimens, 400 in number, the most valuable, but in addition to these I had a great collection of insects, horns, plants, reptiles, skins of quadrupeds and birds, minerals, skeletons, spiders, crustaceans, molluscs and fossils."

Holub brought back some 13,000 items from his four expeditions, and he sold them to schools and museums back home. But he also brought back descriptions and drawings of plants, animals and also notes about the life and culture of the local population.

"Emil Holub, for example, is the only reliable source in the research of the culture of the Lozi tribe who lived in this area in the 18th and 19th centuries. For the Lozis Emil Holub's notes are the most important ethnographical source of information about their nation."

From Livingstone, the exhibition about Emil Holub's life and work will move to South Africa and Botswana. The Czech Embassy is also preparing an exhibition of postcards featuring Emil Holub's drawings and a new edition of one of his books.

Source: Statue of explorer Emil Holub unveiled in Livingstone, Zambia (22/09/05)

Friday 16 September 2005

Fast food giant says tourism is on its way to recovery

Tourism, once one of Zimbabwe’s highest foreign currency earners which was threatening to take over from tobacco, could be on its way to recovery following almost five years in the doldrums.

Fast food giant, Innscor Africa, whose adventure company Shearwater provides various forms of entertainment including bungee -jumping to tourists especially at the Victoria Falls, says arrival numbers to Shearwater increased by 32 percent during the year ending June compared to the previous year.
“The group is hopeful that Zimbabwe will regain its status as an attractive tourism destination and will see this operation once again contributing significantly to group results,” Innscor says in its annual report.
Available statistics show that though numbers are still down, at least earnings are going up. Zimbabwe earned US$201.6 million from tourism in 1999 but this plunged to a mere US$44.1 million in 2003.
Although the number of arrivals plunged from 613 030 in 2003 to 348 946 in 2004, tourism earned US$152 million in 2004. Preliminary figures for 2005 show that 452 328 tourists came to Zimbabwe in the first quarter.
Tourism to Zimbabwe has been on the decline since the government embarked on its controversial land reform programme in 2000. The programme has just been sealed with the passing of the Constitutional Amendment Act Number 17 that bars anyone from taking the government to court when it acquires land.
The European Union and the United States slapped Zimbabwe with what they termed “smart sanctions” and also issued travel warnings discouraging their citizens from visiting Zimbabwe which hosts the Victoria Falls, one of the seven wonders of the world.
Zimbabwe has initiated extensive promotion programmes including the “Come to Victoria Falls” video which was screened in South Africa and the Miss World Tourism pageant which it hosted. It is not yet clear whether the campaign has paid off or not.
Source and further reading: Fast food giant says tourism is on its way to recovery (15/09/05)

Saturday 10 September 2005

Canadian scribe tells Kaseke problems are political

A VISITING Canadian delegation of tour operators and journalists that visited some of the country’s tourist resorts last week left government with egg on its face after a television journalist said Zimbabwe’s tourism woes were wholly political.
The Zimbabwe Tourism Authority (ZTA) had invited the delegation to tour Zimbabwe in an event arranged by Zimbabwe’s ambassador to Canada, Florence Chideya.

Jonathan Rooth, a senior producer with Omni Television, told Chideya and ZTA authorities who had bargained for positive feedback that Zimbabwe needed to resolve its political crisis if there was to be a change in tourism fortunes.

“I’m going to be frank with you,” Rooth said. “Your problems here are political. You need to start to talk with the Western media. It’s about time you opened your doors to them. Inviting them to come over to shoot some reality and nature shows can do a lot of good.”

Rooth said currently there was no documentation of Zimbabwe’s tourism products in Western markets making it difficult for prospective clients to visit Zimbabwe. The television producer also cited an array of problems, which he said hog-tied the growth of the sector.

Rooth highlighted fuel shortages, deserted resorts, poor telecommunications and Internet services and a skewed foreign exchange regime as enfeebling tourism operations potential.

ZTA chief executive officer, Karikoga Kaseke, said government was mulling a plan to twin the Victoria Falls with Niagara Falls to entice tourists from the West.

Kaseke said government was going to rectify pricing distortions in the tourism sector. “We have just concluded an arrangement with Noczim to eradicate the fuel problem,” he said. “It’s a situation that can be normalised but as I speak as ZTA CEO I can assure you that government has made it a priority to solve the problem.”

Government of late has been courting Western markets to resuscitate the tourism sector, which came to a near collapse last year.
Kaseke was recently barred from attending the World Tourism Markets Summit in the United Kingdom, a move thought to stem from his membership of the ruling party.

Source: Canadian scribe tells Kaseke problems are political (09/09/05)