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Thursday 28 July 2016

Corridors Through Time - A History of the Victoria Falls Hotel

Originally established in 1904 The Victoria Falls Hotel is steeped in a rich and interesting history covering the growth of tourism to the Victoria Falls.

Fully illustrated with over 100 archive images and over 30 modern photographs, Corridors Through Time - a History of the Victoria Falls Hotel traces the story of the Hotel's development, from humble beginnings to luxury five-star elegance, from the arrival of the railway to the age of aviation, and from colonial administration to Independence.

"Over the long period of its operation the Hotel has taken on an identity of her own, ‘The Grand Old Lady of the Falls,’ matriarch of Zimbabwe’s tourism industry. She has had her ups, and downs, but from modest beginnings she has a matured into a global icon, ranked among the most famous hotels of the world... ‘Corridors Through Time’ is more than the history of a Hotel - it is the story of the development of modern tourism to the Victoria Falls through the twentieth century."
Karl Snater, General Manager, The Victoria Falls Hotel (2009-2011).

See for more information and post-publication updates. [172 pages, 40,000 words]

Available to order online in the US through and the UK through - with shipping across the world.

First Published by the Jafuta Foundation, Zimbabwe.
Second Edition Zambezi Book Company / CreateSpace Independent Publishing

Also see Peter's first book, 'Sun, Steel and Spray - A History of the Victoria Falls Bridge,' also available on Amazon.

Sun, Steel and Spray - A History of the Victoria Falls Bridge

Announcing a new, extended edition of 'Sun, Steel and Spray - A History of the Victoria Falls Bridge' by Peter Roberts

Sun, Steel & Spray - A History of the Victoria Falls Bridge is a comprehensive history of the Victoria Falls Bridge. Built in 1904-5 as part of the extension of the envisaged Cape-to-Cairo railway north into central Africa, the spanning of the Zambezi River pushed engineering knowledge and construction techniques of the time to new heights, literally, for at the time the Victoria Falls Bridge was the highest of its kind over water.

With close to 100 period photographs over 150 pages, Sun, Steel and Spray is full of interesting facts, entertaining stories and information detailing the rich history of this iconic structure, from conception and construction to its ongoing management and maintenance.

This revised second edition builds on information published in the first edition and is presented in a new revised layout, with expanded text and many additional stories, details and images.

See for more information and post-publication updates. [158 pages, 45,000 words]

Available to order online in the US through and the UK through - with shipping across the world.

First published by the Victoria Falls Bridge Company (2011).
Second Edition Zambezi Book Company / CreateSpace Independent Publishing (2016).

See for more information and post-publication updates.

Also see Peter's second book, Corridors Through Time - A History of the Victoria Falls Hotel, also available on Amazon.

Monday 25 July 2016

Hyena spotted dragging a human body near Victoria Falls

Two motorists approaching Victoria Falls this week were horrified to see a hyena dragging a human body, a conservationist told News24.

According to the publication, it later emerged that the hyena had not killed the woman, but had found her body after she committed suicide.

"It was about 3km from the town. It's a big tar road and they saw this hyena was dragging a body,"  Trevor Lane of the Bhejane Trust told News24.

Zimbabwe Parks and Wildlife Management Authority officials were alerted and came to track the hyena.

They found what was left of the body more than 1km from the road, just outside the hyena's den. Lane was told that it was the torso and the top of the chest.

Further investigations revealed the woman had had an argument with her husband and hit him with an axe. Thinking she had killed him she fled into the nearby national park and committed suicide.

"The hyena didn't kill her. Hyenas are scavengers: they just found the body."

Hyena attacks on humans are rare in Zimbabwe, but they frequently prey on their cattle. The Chronicle newspaper reported on Thursday that a single hyena had killed more than 30 cattle in the Bubi District in southern Zimbabwe since the beginning of the year.

The rural district council hired a professional hunter to kill the animal, the paper said.

One hyena was killed in the district last year. A 10-year-old lost her eye in 2013 when a hyena attacked and injured five villagers in the Buhera district of eastern Zimbabwe.

Source: Hyena spotted dragging a human body near Victoria Falls (23/07/16)

Victoria Falls Airport to Be Ready Next Month, Finally

The refurbishment of the Victoria Falls International Airport will now be completed next month after missing several deadlines, an official has said.
Civil Aviation Authority of Zimbabwe (CAAZ) general manager David Chaota told The Source on the sidelines of the ongoing Common Market for Eastern and South Africa (Comesa) meeting in Victoria Falls, that the contractor was putting finishing touches on the $150 million Chinese-funded upgrade.
"We are doing finishing touches and work is underway on face-lifting the existing terminal. Come August it will be ready, this is the final deadline now," he said.
CAAZ officials on Wednesday led delegates from the Comesa member states who are attending the week-long meeting, on a tour of the facility. The $150 million expansion project, which started in February 2013, will improve the airport's handling capacity from 500, 000 per annum to 1, 5 million.
The airport will now also handle wide-bodied aircraft, with CAAZ keen on developing it as a regional aviation hub.
China's Exim Bank is funding upgrading work through a concessionary loan facility while China Jiangsu is carrying out the construction work.
Expansion work has also been done on the existing runway, while the control tower, new fire station with a capacity for five fire engines, a water tower, car park, sewer ponds and water tank are already completed and in use.
"Work isn't complete yet but we are in the final stages of everything. The immigration space is now bigger and well-conditioned to facilitate quicker clearing of visitors for their convenience and we think we are now ready to receive more visitors," airport manager Ronny Masawi told the delegates.
He said four exclusive restaurants are already open and as are smoking and first class lounges.
The airport would also have offices and shops on the airside which CAAZ says are in line with international aviation standards.
The complex also houses two fuel service stations with a capacity of 1,200 litres of Jet A1 at any given time.
Source: Victoria Falls Airport to Be Ready Next Month, Finally (24 July 2016)

Friday 15 July 2016

African Sun sees growth in tourism

Harare – Hospitality group, African Sun Limited says the expansion of the Victoria Falls airport and runway in Matabeleland North province to accommodate larger aircrafts is expected to increase foreign tourist arrivals in the resort town.
In Matabeleland North, the group operates the Victoria Falls Hotel, the Kingdom Hotel and Hwange Safari Lodge.
In the five months to May, revenue for the group was US$14.09 million (23 percent down from last year) as a result of difficult trading conditions and reduced demand in the country signified by the negative inflation of -2.47 percent, the depreciation of the regional currencies, particularly the South African rand and change in Southern African Development Community (SADC) and African Union chairmanship from Zimbabwe, which resulted in one-off business that came the prior year.
Other reasons include  the occupancy that  was at 35 percent compared to 44 percent same period last year as room night sold declined by  22 percent and a reduction of 17 percent in operating costs from 2015.
Despite the reduction in revenues by 23 percent for the five months ending May 2016, African Sun achieved a loss of US$740 000 down from a 2015 loss of US$1.87 million.
African Sun Chief Executive Officer, Edwin Shangwa, says an increase in tourist arrivals was expected in the second half of the year.
“The expansion of Victoria Falls airport and runway to accommodate larger aircraft is likely to increase foreign arrivals in Victoria Falls. We anticipate an increase particularly during the peak season,” he says.
“Improved airline connectivity between Harare and Victoria Falls will influence domestic arrivals into these two destinations.”
It said business will continue to be supported by the resilient international market.
“Due to subdued revenues we have taken steps and we will continue to reduce costs to align to performance. H2 (Second Half Peak Season) is expected to drive recovery from the subdued H1 (First Half) performance.”
In April this year, African Sun shut down its loss-making hotels in and outside Zimbabwe and has since been undertaking major cost rationalisation measures to bring back existing operations to profitability.
Hotels closed include Amber Accra Hotel in Ghana and the local operation Beitbridge Express as well as other operations in Nigeria, Mauritius and South Africa. The closures were meant to halt cash drain from the profitable Zimbabwe operations. African Sun has changed its business model from a hotel operator to hotel Investment Company.

Brisk business in Vic Falls despite stayaway threat

Leonard Ncube Victoria Falls Reporter

TOUR operators and accommodation facilities in Victoria Falls have recorded an 80 percent occupancy rate since last week with more positive prospects in the second half of the year, an official has said. While some sections of society were advocating a stayaway and a strike last week, it was business as usual for tourism businesses in the resort town.

Employers’ Association for Tourism and Safari Operators (EATSO) president Mr Clement Mukwasi said hotels and activities were fully booked between now and December, surpassing records for the past three years.

He said only September is still free for the third quarter, which stretches from July to September while November and December are also fully booked, promising a 20 percent increase end of year. Mr Mukwasi said Victoria Falls had overtaken Livingstone, where tourists have been flocking lately.

“Victoria Falls has overtaken Livingstone in terms of arrivals in the third quarter, which is July to September although September is still not clear. We have recorded a massive increase in capacity, which is at 80 percent for hotels and activity bookings and that surpasses the past three years whose capacity has been hovering at between 30 and 55 percent,” said Mr Mukwasi.

“This has surpassed the past three years and we have also gone beyond what’s being experienced in Livingstone and this means we are able to keep people on their jobs and contribute to shareholders and the fiscus.”

Mr Mukwasi said most of their clients were coming from Europe as most of them prefer going on holiday this time of the year. He said operators are geared to ensure satisfactory service.

“We are warming up to the season by increasing staff and in-house training as well as infrastructure to ensure there is adequate capacity for numbers. So far we are meeting demand but there is a need to increase on hotel accommodation facilities in Victoria Falls if the destination is to keep up with numbers,” said Mr Mukwasi.

He said a number of operators were busy expanding their facilities with also new accommodation being built. A few weeks ago Batonka Guest Lodge opened for business and Shearwater is also constructing a campsite behind Elephants Walk. Mr Mukwasi said campsites were now popular because the majority of visitors are “day trippers” coming in groups between Victoria Falls-Hwange and Chobe.

Source: Brisk business in Vic Falls despite stayaway threat (12/07/16)

Monday 11 July 2016

Zimbabwe: Government Policies Hurting Tourism

Tourism players have appealed to government to revisit some of its policies that are negatively affecting the industry which is currently grappling with subdued tourist arrivals.

There is unanimity among industry actors that tourism is a key growth driver and Treasury estimates that the sector is set to grow by more than 4,7 percent this year and maintain moderate growth of above four percent.

Finance Minister Patrick Chinamasa has highlighted that government supports interventions meant to enhance tourism, which include marketing, relaxing the visa regime, investment in tourism and related infrastructure and promotion of the "Open skies policy."

However, industry players said they were suffering from the dire effects of some government policies whose existence directly affects operations and tourist arrivals.

Two years ago, government introduced a 15 percent Value Added Tax (VAT) on accommodation and recently came up with Statutory Instrument 64 of 2016 which restricts the importation of a range of goods into the country without a licence or import permit.

Tourism players who include hoteliers and tour operators held an urgent meeting last week under the auspices of the Zimbabwe Tourism Authority (ZTA) where they implored the ZTA board, led by Chipo Mutasa, to immediately engage government over the issues.

Zimbabwe Council for Tourism (ZCT) representative, Barbra Murasiranwa, told the meeting that the sector was saddled with a number of challenges that needed urgent attention.

Murasiranwa said even the 15 percent VAT introduced by government two years ago needs re-visiting as it was directly affecting tourism.

"Something still needs to be done about VAT. It's making our destination expensive. We want to bring business to the country through luring tourists, but we can't do that when our products are this expensive. We can attract more tourists if VAT is removed," said Murasiranwa.

She said some countries such as Kenya and Tanzania had scrapped VAT to attract more tourists into their countries. ZCT has also appealed for a one-stop-shop where all licence fees and permits could be applied for and obtained under one roof.

Murasiranwa called for decentralisation of licence offices to respective towns where tour operators could, for instance, apply for permits in Victoria Falls or any other town they are domiciled in rather than having to travel to Harare.

"We also need a one-stop-shop where operators can apply for permits and licences and do away with multiple licences. There are as many as 20 licences needed to run helicopter and boats (services) and all these are obtained from Harare and Bulawayo. Fees should be reasonable as well," she said.

Murasiranwa said the industry still needed assistance regarding the prolonged rates impasse between hotels and the Victoria Falls Municipality.

African Sun Hotel group and the local authority recently clashed over a US$400 000 bill in unpaid rates, which had skyrocketed following a disputed 500 percent tariff increase.

"The rates issue between (Victoria Falls) hotels and the council is still pending. The council introduced a 500 percent increase in rates resulting in a number of meetings after we complained about the issue. The rates were then reduced by 20 percent, but hotels are still appealing for a relook into this because the figure is still high," said Murasiranwa.

Mutasa said they would return to the resort town with a response within a month.

Source: Zimbabwe: Government Policies Hurting Tourism (07/07/16)

Friday 8 July 2016

Zimra rejects offer for help . . . Tourists suffer at shelterless Kazungula Border

Leonard Ncube Victoria Falls Reporter

TOURISM players in Victoria Falls have mobilised $12, 000 for the construction of a shed at Kazungula Border post amid reports some tourists have fainted at the border because of excessive direct heat.

Unlike Beitbridge and Plumtree Border posts, Kazungula and Victoria Falls have no holding sheds for travellers despite the excessive heat because of high temperatures.

Representing Zimbabwe Council for Tourism, Mrs Barbara Murasiranwa said hotels and tour operators wanted to build a shed after noticing that their clients were fainting while waiting to be served at the border where the process is ‘very slow.’

She was briefing the Zimbabwe Tourism Authority (ZTA) board at a meeting to sample challenges facing the industry in Victoria Falls last week.

“Challenges at ports of entry are a deterrent to visiting tourists. The industry wanted to build a shed at Kazungula to cater for visitors at a cost of $12, 000. We had agreed to contribute to raise the money but Zimra stopped us saying they’ll do it,” she said.

Mrs Murasiranwa alleged that for close to two years, the shed hasn’t been erected.

“One year has passed and when we enquired, we established that Zimra felt if we carried out the project, the tourism industry would be glorified as it will be known that it’s the operators who built it.

“There is no space at the border and most people who use the port of entry are tourists moving between Zimbabwe, Botswana, Zambia and Namibia and because of the delays and hustles at the border, they have to endure direct heat and many have collapsed while in queues,” added Mrs Murasiranwa.

She said this was a huge challenge for operators as she implored ZTA to help.

Acting Zimra Commissioner Mr Happias Kuzvinzwa requested questions in writing yesterday and had not responded to an email sent to him at the time of going to press.

Meanwhile, Mrs Murasiranwa called upon the government to equip ports of entry with electronic point of sale machines such as Visa and Master Card to speed up the process of attending to travellers.

Kazungula and Victoria Falls border posts are part of the Uni-visa facility, which seeks to enable free and efficient movement of people between Zimbabwe and Zambia.

Source: Zimra rejects offer for help . . . Tourists suffer at shelterless Kazungula Border (7/7/16)

Friday 1 July 2016

Suspended Uni-Visa facility to bounce back

The Kavango-Zambezi Transfrontier Conservation Area (Kaza) Uni-Visa between Zimbabwe and Zambia, which was suspended last year, is set to be re-introduced after the two neighbours agreed to revive it. The two Sadc countries are understood to be at an advanced stage of drafting a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) that would lead to the re-introduction of the “free trade” facility while offices of the Attorney Generals in the respective countries are working on the legal aspect of it.

This came out of a stakeholders’ meeting organised by the Zimbabwe Tourism Authority in Victoria Falls yesterday to deliberate on challenges facing the tourism industry especially in the resort town. Chief Immigration Officer Clemence Masango said 50,000 stickers have already been sourced for the re-introduction of the Kaza Uni-Visa.

“The Uni-Visa was suspended in December 2015 because of two reasons whereby the two countries had run out of stickers and also after the expiry of the MoU. The two countries have been deliberating on whether to continue with the facility and mobilise funding for stickers,” said Masango.

He said stickers had already been dispatched to various centres where the facility should be implemented. “We are happy to report that we have managed to source 50,000 stickers and the only outstanding issue is the signing of MoU so that there is a legal standing to it.

“The two countries are addressing these issues at Cabinet level while Attorney General’s Office will advise on the developments,” added Masango. He said a similar process was underway in neighbouring Zambia.

The Uni-Visa was launched in 2014 after being mooted at the 2013 United Nations World Tourism Organisation (UNTWO) to ease movement between the two countries as a pilot projects towards a similar development in the Sadc region. The facility stopped last year owing to a number of reasons.
Meanwhile, the ZTA board led by its chairperson Chipo Mutasa, Ross Kennedy and ZTA chief executive officer Karikoga Kaseke are on a fact finding mission in the resort town to hear concerns of the industry from operators.

Source: Suspended Uni-Visa facility to bounce back (29/06/16)