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Monday 14 November 2011

Commotion Over Issuance Of Mining Licenses In Sanctuary

 BULAWAYO — The Conservancy and Tourism Association of Matabeleland North is up in arms against government over the granting of prospecting licenses to four coal mining companies in an area falling under the Zambezi Trans-Frontier conservancy park.

The park is a joint venture between Zimbabwe, Zambia, Mozambique, Botsw-ana and Namibia.

The coal prospecting grants issued by Mines and Mining Development Minister, Obert Mpofu, also lie close to the construction site of the Gwayi-Shangani Dam, and environmentalists have warned that water pollution would increase as waste from the mines is likely to flow into the reservoir.

The Environmental Management Agency has also warned of environmental dangers should full-scale mining take place: The emission of poisonous gases — carbon chloride, carbon monoxide, carbon dioxide, nitrous oxide, sulphur dioxide and methane gas — would contaminate the dam.

The Hwange, Gwayi and Dete Cons-ervancy and Tourism Association chairperson, Langton Masunda, this week said business would suffer as a result of government’s move to award the mining licenses without consultation with the association.

Said Masunda: “The clearing of the bush, pollution and noise produced by the heavy mining equipment will affect wildlife and this will result in low revenues earned for the country because the Hwange, Gwayi and Dete Conservancy area is the second largest in terms of revenue earned per annum after Victoria Falls.”

Wildlife in the area has already begun migrating into neighbouring Botswana as a result of the increased mining activity.

Mpofu declined to comment on the issue, saying he was in a cabinet meeting on Tuesday. Although the four mines are yet to fully conduct an Environmental Impact Asses-sment (EIA), they have already gone ahead with full-scale mining activities, according to Masunda.

“It is our belief that they cannot start mining unless they produce an EIA certificate and all stakeholders, local community and tourism businesspeople will have to be part of it.

“That has not happened for now and we are surprised to see some of these mines operating only with the blessing of the Mines Ministry”, said Masunda.

Earlier this year, 20 coal mining companies were given concessions to prospect and mine for coal in Matabeleland North. The Hwange region contains the country’s largest coal deposits, with estimated coal reserves lasting 1 000 years of mining.

It is also the location of the country’s largest national park and wildlife reserve.

Friday 11 November 2011

Tourist arrivals up 16 percent

TOURIST arrivals into Zimbabwe climbed by 16 percent during the first half of 2011 to 657 302, from 568 706 during the six months to June 2010, driven by significant easing of the global financial crisis, a new report said this week.
The growth in arrivals was led by Africa, which pushed volumes up by 11 percent to 567 000, from 510 300 during the prior comparative period in 2010.
However, South Africa, the continent’s largest tourist market, declined by 33 percent, according to the Zimbabwe Tourism Authority (ZTA)’s Tourism Trends and Statistics Report released on Tuesday.
“Zimbabwe recorded a 16 percent increase in tourist arrivals in the first half of 2011,” the ZTA said. 
“The continued growth in arrivals can be attributed to the increased confidence in Zimbabwe as a tourist destination. This has been necessitated (by) continued marketing efforts by the Zimbabwe Tourism Authority. The economic recovery by the country and the increased trade within the region also contributed significantly to this increase,” the report added.
Hotel room occupancy levels increased to 38 percent during the review period from 35 percent during the six months ending June 2010, with holiday travelers dominating.
Business travelers increased by 44 percent to 136 000.
Britain, Zimbabwe’s former colonial power that led an aggressive global onslaught against the country’s political establishment over a chaotic land reform programme that resulted in a sharp fall in foreign tourist arrivals into Zimbabwe, reported a 141 percent rise in arrivals at 10 720.
The report indicated that a marked recovery of Zimbabwe’s economy since dollarisation in 2009, significant improvements in international trade and aggressive marketing strategies had helped restore tourist confidence on Zimbabwe.
Zimbabwe’s economy grew by 8,1 percent in 2010 and was projected to grow by 9,3 percent in 2011, bolstering domestic tourism as disposable incomes improved. Fourteen percent of arrivals during the review period were overseas tourists, from 10 percent during the first half of 2010.
The Americas, where the ZTA had intensified its marketing drive and opened a marketing office in Brazil, together with a plan to lure about 14 million African Americans in the United States, had a 37 percent rise in Zimbabwe arrivals to 22 290.

Asia reported a 104 percent increase, Europe increased by 51 percent, the Middle East increased by 125 percent.
Tourism Minister, Walter Mzembi, had a highly publicised trip to Iran during this period.
The ZTA said there were positive signals of a significant rise in arrivals by year-end.
“The year 2011 promises to bring positive results to Zimbabwe’s tourism industry in line with the anticipated growth in international tourist arrivals by between four and five percent and the regional growth of 13 percent,” the ZTA said.
“Tourist trends are expected to rise following the stabilisation of the economy and the demand resulting from the expected increase in arrivals in 2011,” said the authority.
Source: Tourist arrivals up 16 percent (11/11/11)