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Wednesday 23 December 2015

Victoria Falls tourist arrivals slump

(Zimbabwe) Tourist arrivals at Zimbabwe’s prime resort, Victoria Falls have plunged to below 85% on average in 2015 compared to last year’s numbers due to the introduction of the value added tax (VAT) and depreciation of regional currencies, an official has said.

Employers’ Association of Tourism and Safari Operators president, Clement Mukwasi, told NewsDay that tourist arrivals in Victoria Falls were expected to fall to below 85% compared to last year in the same period. “We are expecting to achieve below 85% of last year’s figures on average,” Mukwasi, who is an executive of the Shearwater Adventures Group, said. He said the numbers of tourist arrivals were declining as regional currencies were weaker, making Zimbabwe more expensive compared to its neighbours.

“You will find out that tourists from these countries, such as South Africa, prefer to go to countries with weaker currencies than theirs,” he said.

Tourism players are still crying foul over the introduction of VAT on foreign tourists’ payments for accommodation and tourism-related services.

The move has been described as “not intelligent” by Tourism minister Walter Mzembi, as it makes the country an expensive destination.

The industry is also on the recovery path, following the Ebola virus outbreak in West Africa last year, which saw Zimbabwe losing business worth $6 million in 2014, according to the Zimbabwe Tourism Authority.

According to a report by the Zimbabwe Tourism Authority (ZTA), Zimbabwe’s overall tourist arrivals were at 930 276 in the first six months of 2015, compared to 876 163 registered in the corresponding period last year boosted by mainly South African visitors.

Mukwasi remained optimistic that next year would be better than 2015, as they had introduced a number of measures to keep the industry moving such, as three-tier approach system.

Meanwhile, Mukwasi commended the move by the government to declare Victoria Falls a tourism special economic zone, as it would have positive effects in addressing liquidity challenges in the country and revives the financial sector.

He said the declaration would facilitate entry of new players bringing competitiveness into the industry. Mukwasi said it was not only the tourism sector that would benefit from such a move, but also some players in the banking sector.

Addressing delegates at the just-ended Local Government Economic Development Forum 2015 in Bulawayo on Wednesday, ZTA chief executive officer, Karikoga Kaseke said Victoria Falls needed about 1 000 more rooms by 2020.

He said the country has become a transit route, as last year about 600 000 tourists passed through Zimbabwe to South Africa.

Kaseke urged the government to build a mall in Victoria Falls to make it a shopping destination for the Sadc region.

High hopes for Victoria Falls airport

By: Xu Lingui, Gretinah Machingura

Harare – As the sun sets on the Zambezi river near the tourist town of Victoria Falls, the bustle of a popular arts market melts away with the African heat.
Hidden in the upper floor of the market, the “Nam Took” Thai restaurant was lit up with colourful lanterns.
With tables set, Madam Toy, owner and chef, walked into the kitchen, tossing out the spices she brought from Bangkok to prepare an authentic Thai cuisine for Asian tourists far from their homes.
Toy had previously run a successful Thai take-away in the Zimbabwean capital Harare, but she decided to rent this spacious property a year ago to cash in on an anticipated tourism boom surrounding the Victoria Falls, Africa’s most famous waterfall, which is on par with Niagara in North America and Iguazu in South America.
“The previous tenant rented this place for three months.
“Business was not good, and he left,” Toy said.
“But I say I will hold on and wait.”
The completion this month of an expanded airport in the town after two and a half years of construction is a piece of good news Toy has long been waiting for.
With a $150 million (R2.2-billion) soft loan from the Export-Import Bank of China, the airport has been expanded to include a 4 000m runway, a new terminal with air bridges, and spacious aircraft slots, said Zhang Xinbin, a manager of the contractor China Jiangsu International Economic and Technical Co-operation Group.
“People were not coming to the Victoria Falls because it was simply too difficult to get here,” Zhang said.
“But now, as the airport can accommodate most long-haul, wide-body aircraft, tourists will be on their way.”
David Chawota, head of the Civil Aviation Authority of Zimbabwe (CAAZ), said the airport’s capacity to handle passenger flows has tripled to 1.5 million a year after the expansion.
“It can accommodate flights from anywhere in the world. It is now possible for direct connections between Victoria Falls and our key tourism source markets,” Chawota said.
Straddling Zambia and Zimbabwe, the Victoria Falls has the world’s widest white water curtain of 1.7km, surpassing both Niagara and Iguazu (82m). Its height at the centre is 108m, twice the height of Niagara (51m).
Despite its charm, the tourism figures do not look good.
According to Zimbabwe Tourism Authority, foreign visitors to the country totalled 930 276 in the first half of 2015, of whom 87 percent were from the African continent.
For Victoria Falls in particular, the number of visitors stands at about 15 000 annually, compared with the 1 million visitors Niagara Falls attracts every year.
Zimbabwean Tourism Minister Walter Mzembi complained that while Niagara generated $30bn of tourism income every year, Victoria Falls brings in less than $1bn.
Poor accessibility is often cited as one of the causes that prevent foreign tourists from visiting.
Due to its limited capacity, the current Victoria Falls airport serves only two international routes – one to Joburg and the other to the Namibian capital Windhoek.
Zimbabwe once enjoyed the status as the regional air hub in the 1990s, at which time Harare International Airport served 46 international flights.
During the past decade, however, the aviation and tourism sectors slid to collapse as the economy went into free fall, and Western sanctions have only exacerbated the situation.
As a result, some tourists crossed Victoria Falls off their “to-visit” list, while others chose to see the falls on the bordering Zambian side.
The influx of foreign tourists transformed the former textile and trade port of Livingstone into a competitive rival to Victoria Falls town, making the overhaul of Zimbabwe’s tourism sector urgent.
As the Falls ranks as the top tourist destination not only in Zimbabwe, but also in the region, the expectation for the completion of the airport expansion is high.
“The project makes Victoria Falls a very important centre for tourism development and growth in the southern African region,” said Paul Matamisa, chief executive of Zimbabwe’s Council for Tourism.
Matamisa said the industry hoped the Zimbabwean government would take the opportunity to advertise the airport to the international community and lure more airlines from major tourist destinations.
In his opinion, diverting passengers to the newly-expanded airport would not only ease the pressure on regional air hubs like the “oversaturated” OR Tambo International Airport in Joburg, but also benefit other neighbouring countries like Zambia, whose air transport infrastructure still lags behind.
It is not yet clear which airline will launch the first long-distance route to Victoria Falls, but Qatari Ambassador to Zimbabwe Salem al-Jaber said last month that negotiations were at an advanced stage.
With the expanded airport in place, Mzembi said his government would push for the opening of skies, relaxation of visas, and the upgrade of lodging and entertainment facilities to draw more arrivals in an ambitious bid to grow tourism into a $5bn industry by 2020.
Acknowledging that China has become the world’s top outbound tourist market with more than 100 million people travelling abroad last year, Mzembi told local media recently that the cabinet had reached an agreement on granting visas on arrival to Chinese nationals.
Official figures show that Zimbabwe has been receiving about 3 800 to 5 500 Chinese tourists a year. In the first half of 2015, 4 000 nationals visited Zimbabwe on tourist visas, many of whom, however, were believed to have landed just in the capital for business or work.
For Toy, a possible surge of Chinese tourists means another piece of good news for her Thai restaurant, which is the only one serving authentic oriental food in town.
“I know for sure Chinese tourists will come to my restaurant.
“As east Asians, our stomach is more used to steamed rice,” she said with a broad smile, adding with her accented Mandarin that she serves the Chinese herbal tea “Jiaogulan” as well.

Wednesday 16 December 2015

Green Tourism unveils new initiative in Zimbabwe

Green Tourism unveils new initiative in Zimbabwe

A partnership with, Zimbabwe Tourism Authority and Environment Africa sees the  a pilot project launched to introduce Green Tourism to Zimbabwe.

15-20 hotels will be selected for the pilot from the Victoria Falls area including Hwange National Park and Livingstone, Zambia. Following awareness training in December 2015 the hotels will be assessed in February 2016 for their awards.

These businesses will become the Founding Members of Green Tourism in Africa, they are: Cresta Sprayview HotelPioneers CampThe Victoria Falls HotelVictoria Falls Safari LodgeVintage Canvas & Camping andWild Horizons The Elephant Camp.

The memorandum of understanding agreed by the partnership entails a commitment to:
  • Help tourism businesses become more sustainable
  • Develop minimum Green Tourism standards for integration into a national quality assurance scheme
  • Establish a Green Tourism awards scheme for Zimbabwe
  • Identify the leading practitioners and supporters and develop a framework for mutual cooperation
  • Mobilise resources through partnerships with interested stakeholders
  • Promote awareness in the tourism industry of green tourism ethics and practices and disseminate them
Zimbabwe tourism businesses will get: awards based on their  performance  and achievements.

They will also get advice and assistance from qualified, trained environmental auditors, who will, amongst other things, help businesses identify cost savings and marketing opportunities.

Subject to a successful pilot, the project will be expanded to help and empower other businesses throughout the area.

Source: Green Tourism unveils new initiative in Zimbabwe

Tuesday, December 8, 2015

Monday 14 December 2015

Vic Falls council provides stands to homeseekers

Victoria Falls Municipality, which has a housing backlog of about 10 000, is selling stands for as much as $50 000 to prospective home owners.
The development is part of the “Beneficiary Pays Scheme” initiative.
Targeted beneficiaries are drawn from people on the waiting list and those with financial potential to build houses.
In a notice, town clerk, Christopher Dube said the value of stands ranged from $32 000 to $50 000. Sizes range between 2 000 square meters to 4 000 square meters at Aerodrome low density.
“Beneficiaries will be required to pay a third of the total cost of their stand or a minimum of $10 500, as initial deposit.
The remaining balance shall be payable over a period of 12 months,” he said. According to the notice, preference will be given to people with offer letters from the Beneficiary Pays Scheme initiative and “members of the public with demonstrated capacity to acquire and develop”.
In August, the local authority said it would provide close to 11 000 housing stands located between Mkhosana and Chinotimba suburbs along the Bulawayo-Victoria Falls main road and along Kazungula-Victoria Falls road.
The place had over the years been reserved as an animal corridor, with no development allowed, but high demand for housing in the resort town necessitated the development.
The buffer zone is the same area that has been invaded by open space churches that have sprouted in the resort town with the local authority now seeking to ban them for defiling the environment.

Tuesday 8 December 2015

New Victoria Falls International Airport terminal opens

A brand new Victoria Falls International Airport terminal was opened to passengers on Wednesday, 2 December.
Although the state-of-the-art $150 million Victoria Falls International Airport will only be officially opened on Sunday, 13 December, David Chawota for the Civil Aviation Authority of Zimbabwe (CAAZ) confirmed that the airport was operating recently, All Africa reports.

Chawota was speaking at the International Civil Aviation Day celebrations in Harare on Friday, 4 December.
The airport expansion was funded by the China Exim Bank, All Africa reports.
Its face-lift included upgrading the domestic terminal building, a new 4km runway, the new international terminal and the construction of a new fire station and new control tower. 
Chawota says the CAAZ's vision is for the Victoria Falls International Airport to become a gateway to Central and Southern Africa, boosting tourism. He hopes for the regional hub to become offer world-class aviation services by the end of 2020.

According to Airport Manager Ronnie Masawi, the new terminal can accommodate up to 1.5 million passengers a year, Tourism Update reports. Masawi said Air Zimbabwe, SAA, BA Comair, flyafrica and fastjet were currently operating to the airport, while Qatar airlines are also looking into launching flights to the airport.

Batoka Gorge HydroElectric Scheme - ESIA

Stakeholders who registered their interest in the Batoka Gorge HES project will have received the following announcement by email:


The Zambezi River Authority (ZRA) is a statutory organization equally owned by the Governments of Zambia and Zimbabwe. ZRA has been appointed by the Governments of Zambia and Zimbabwe as the implementing agency for the development of the Batoka Hydro Electric Scheme (BHES). The proposed HES will be situated approximately 47km downstream of the Victoria Falls. In Zimbabwe, it falls within the province of Matabeleland North and in the Hwange Rural District. In Zambia, it falls in the Southern Province, covering Kazungula, Livingstone, Zimba, Choma and Kalomo Districts.

Environmental and Social Impact Assessment (ESIA)

As part of the statutory requirements in Zambia and Zimbabwe, before development of the project commences, an Environmental and Social Impact Assessment (ESIA) must be completed and environmental authorization granted for the project by both the Zambian and Zimbabwean regulatory authorities. The ESIA will determine and assess the social and environmental impacts that may result from the proposed scheme and will identify ways to manage these impacts through the development of appropriate mitigation strategies.

The ESIA will be undertaken in alignment with the legislation of both countries, as well as international good practice guidelines such as the IFC’s Performance Standards. The ZRA has commissioned Environmental Resources Management (ERM) and its local partners (Kaizen Consulting International in Zambia and Black Crystal in Zimbabwe) as the Project Consultants to undertake the ESIA.

The following documents are currently available for public review:

·   Draft Scoping Report (located in libraries and website as detailed below);
·   Non-Technical Summary of the Scoping Report (available electronically on request);
·   Comments and Response Report (included in the Draft Scoping Report and available electronically on request); and
·   Grievance Mechanism (included in the Draft Scoping Report and available electronically on request)

Our website for the retrieval of the full Scoping Report is: and public places where hard copies of reports have been made available are:

-        Hwange Rural District Council Office
-        District Administrators Office in Hwange
-        Jambezi Clinic
-        Chisuma clinic 
-        Matebeleland North Provincial Administrators Office
-        Victoria Falls Municipal Offices
-        Environment Africa Office Victoria Falls
-        Black Crystal’s Office in Harare (see address below)

-        Livingstone City Council
-        Livingstone District Commissioner’s Office
-        Kazungula District Council
-        Kazungula District Commissioner’s Office
-        Lusaka Kaizen Consulting Office
-        District Commissioners offices in Zimba, Kalomo and Choma
-        District Council Offices in Zimba, Kalomo and Choma
-        National Assembly Offices Zimba, Kalomo and Choma
-        Chiefs Palaces (Sipatunyana, Simwatachela & Chikanta)

We are keen to hear your comments and concerns about the Project The comment period runs from 4th December 2015 and 22nd January 2016, after which:

·   comments received will be forwarded to the regulatory authorities; the Environmental Management Agency of Zimbabwe (EMA) and the Zambia Environmental Management Agency (ZEMA) for their further attention;
·   the scope of work for the assessment phase of the Project will be modified; and
·   the Comments and Response Report (CRR) will be updated.  The current CRR (also enclosed) records all the comments we have received to date on the Project, and provides responses to these. 

Please send through any comments you may have by 22nd January 2016 via any of the contact means below.

Black Crystal Consulting (Zimbabwe)
1 Fairbairn Drive, Mt Pleasant Harare,  Zimbabwe

Kaizen Consulting International (Zambia),
+260(0) 977-758-591
Suite 3, Floor 21st, Findeco House, Cairo Road, P.O. Box 33526, Lusaka, Zambia

Environmental  Resources Management

New airport development to change the face of Victoria Falls

From WildZambezi November 2015 Newsletter

The new international airport at Victoria Falls is now open, and set to bring huge changes to the resort town, positioning the area as a tourism hub for the SADC region. Negotiations are already underway for several large international airlines to fly in directly.

Zimbabwe’s Minister of Tourism, The Hon Walter Mzembi told an Investment Tourism Summit in South Africa recently that “The time has come to ‘modernise’ the Victoria Falls to attract a younger generation traveller to the World Heritage Site.”  

According to Mzembi the plans include an integrated tourism resort in Victoria Falls, and development of the world’s first ever ‘eco-Disneyland’. On the cards are an international convention centre, hotels, shopping malls, presidential villas and a medical tourism park centre. 

We want to establish a big international convention centre, which must seat 10 000 delegates,” said Mzembi. He stressed, however, that the development would not desecrate the World Heritage status of the Victoria Falls in any way and that the development would be outside the perimeter. The Victoria Falls will remain as virgin as when they were first discovered in the 1800s.”

The Zimbabwean government is also apparently looking into developing an international finance centre, allowing people to do their offshore banking in Victoria Falls, as opposed to Mauritius or Hong Kong, according to Mzembi.  He believes that these developments will also considerably increase the length of stay in the resort town from the current two to three nights to seven-night stays. 

Prime land near the Victoria Falls has been set aside and made available for the development of these projects.  But, the Zimbabwe government is still looking for private investors to make them a reality.  There is also some concern within the wider tourism industry as to whether or not these plans are appropriate for Victoria Falls.  Some believe it will detract from the Falls’ natural beauty, wildlife and scenery, which tourists come to Africa to experience.