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Wednesday 30 November 2016

Vic Falls driver gets 2.5 yrs jail for failing to give way to Mugabe’s motorcade

Mr Trinity Gonongono of Victoria Falls town will spend the next 30 months in jail after he was convicted for failing to give way to President Robert Mugabe’s motorcade last week Thursday.
Gonongono (33) was charged with failure to comply with a lawful instruction given by the police when he appeared before Victoria Falls magistrate Ms Lindiwe Maphosa on Monday.
He was arrested by Mugabe’s guards when he failed to pull off the road to give way to the motorcade as specified in Zimbabwe road traffic regulations.
According to the highway code: “a driver is expected to pull off the road and stop to the extreme left of the road and remain stationary while a motorcade or an ambulance passes by.”
He pleaded guilty to the offence and was sentenced to an effective 30 months in jail.
The prosecutor Mr Takunda Ndovorwi said Gonongono was driving a Toyota Lite Ace pickup truck with two passengers on board along Livingstone Way when he failed to give way to the President’s motorcade.
President Mugabe was in Victoria Falls on Thursday and Friday for the commissioning of the Victoria Falls International Airport.

New Vic Falls terminal set to boost tourist arrivals

The opening of a new terminal and upgrading of facilities at the Victoria Falls Airport will have a significant positive impact on international arrivals in Zimbabwe’s premier tourist destination, a senior executive with a top hotel has said.

Speaking after the recent commissioning of the $150 million Airport, Mr Glenn Stutchbury said it was essential for all stakeholders to take advantage of the development to increase the number of visitors to Victoria Falls and surrounding areas.

“We now have in place an international airport that can handle larger aircraft and greater numbers of aircraft arrivals and departures, so it is important for all stakeholders to examine what can and must be done to make this work for the travel and tourism sector, as well as the Zimbabwean economy as a whole,” he said.

The new international terminal has capacity to service 1,2 million people per annum and a new parallel 4 000m runway to cater for wide body aircraft in the class of Boeing 747.

Victoria Falls, is the epicentre of a 500 kilometre radius, which includes one of the great rivers of the world, the Zambezi, and a diverse number of wilderness areas ranging from the Okavango Delta and Chobe National Park in Botswana, Kafue National Park in Zambia, Hwange and Matusadona National Parks and Lake Kariba in Zimbabwe.

“Civil aviation authorities must continue the search for new air services and in this regard we are delighted to hear that Ethiopian Airlines has already committed itself to a new scheduled service direct into Victoria Falls in 2017, using an aircraft much larger than we are used to seeing at the Victoria Falls Airport.

“This will help hospitality operators utilise more of the existing accommodation capacity, which has been underutilised for some time now. Should numbers grow to levels that demand it; operators could start thinking about projects to expand capacity.

This kind of scenario is one that involves increased income generation, greater levels of employment and a direct impact on the national economy,” Mr Stutchbury said.

He said Cresta Hotels had invested in Victoria Falls in 2014 in anticipation of the impact the airport project would have on visitors and now looked forward to increasing business at its Victoria Falls operation, Cresta Sprayview.

The hotel is aimed at the three to four-star market from local, regional and international sources, including leisure, business and conference segments of the source markets.

Mr Stutchbury said developments in neighbouring Botswana also gave cause for optimism about increased business levels in the entire tourist “playground” of northern Botswana, northern Zimbabwe, southern Zambia and eastern Namibia.

“At Maun, which is the gateway to the Okavango delta, developments are taking place at the airport to transform it into a major service facility for travellers heading there.

“As a result, we in Cresta are at an advanced stage of construction of a new hotel close to Maun, and this will also take advantage of increased capacity for arrivals from international and other source markets.”

He said Cresta had full confidence in the future of travel and tourism throughout Southern Africa, and was hopeful that obstacles to progress and development would be overcome, resulting in increased international interest in the whole area.

“Cresta has a footprint across three countries in the region — Zimbabwe, Botswana and Zambia — and is keen to see an increase in travel to the area that involves movement across borders and utilises the travel and tourism infrastructure of all three countries.

“Our marketing thrust highlights the ease and benefits of holidays that, for example, make us offer two primarily leisure hotels: Cresta Mowana in Kasane, Botswana, and Cresta Sprayview in Victoria Falls.

“We support regional tourism co-operation and that is why we have a presence in three different countries at the present time.”

Mr Stutchbury said any impediments to growth in this travel and tourism opportunity had to be identified and eliminated and Cresta would play its part in this process.

Tuesday 29 November 2016

New Vic Falls Airport a ‘game changer’

VICTORIA FALS-FRIDAY, November 18, was a historic day for the tourism industry in Zimbabwe as President Mugabe commissioned the new US$150 million Victoria Falls International Airport, which tourism operators in the country said was a game changer in making the country a regional tourist hub.

The Southern Times senior reporter Lovemore Ranga Mataire (L.R.M) spoke to Ross Kennedy (R.K), the chief executive officer of Africa Albida Tourism (ATT) about the new development. ATT is a regional tourism giant with interests in Zimbabwe and Botswana.
L.R.M: How will this airport benefit Zimbabwe in general and the Victoria Falls town in particular?
R.K: A new airport in any destination creates interest and awareness of the destination. In this case, that destination is Victoria Falls. Zimbabwe, as a country, benefits from that same exposure. We are aware from our close co-operation with the Civil Aviation Authority of Zimbabwe (CAAZ) that a number of renowned international airlines are in talks with them about routes into Victoria Falls International Airport, and some of those are at an advanced stage.
What will happen in due course, which may be a two- to five-year window, is that Victoria Falls will become the tourism gateway for the rest of Zimbabwe, and, indeed, the KAZA region.
L.R.M: How do you respond to sentiments that the airport is going to become a white elephant and that its construction was an unnecessary expenditure?
R.K: My response is mixed between, firstly, being utterly dismissive of such negativity, and, secondly, the fact that the engagement with international airlines and the global tourism industry has already created significant interest and excitement about the possibilities for Victoria Falls to become a second regional tourism hub.
OR Tambo Airport in Johannesburg, which is the current gateway airport for the region, is under severe stress for a variety of reasons, and for second time and repeat visitors to the continent the ability to bypass OR Tambo will be a significant plus in planning itineraries. Just imagine the potential cost and time saving of not having to land at OR Tambo and have a two- to five-hour wait for your connection, and all of the time and costs associated. Government policy on expenditure on infrastructure should always include all elements, of course, but this project will show and deliver long-term benefits to the country via the tourism sector.
L.R.M: In what way do you think the airport will be a game changer?
R.K: The airport is set to be a game changer because of the scale of the project and the fact that it can now handle long haul wide bodied jets, which in turn opens us up to entire new source markets. In addition, the potential for our existing markets to promote, sell and serve Zimbabwe even better adds further benefit. For example, let’s assume that Turkish Airlines decides to fly into Victoria Falls from Istanbul, the geographic location of Istanbul and its hub status in the European and international markets will offer direct long haul access that currently does not exist.
Imagine just three wide-bodied jets a week landing in Victoria Falls, each unloading 250 to 300 people from new destinations, the impact that has on occupancy and all the associated downstream economic benefits. The impact on employment alone will be significant.   
L.R.M: In what way do you think the introduction of the UNIVISA will benefit Zimbabwe?
R.K: The initial year-long roll out of the UNIVISA proved to be a meaningful positive with international source markets to whom it applied. Not only is there a cost saving involved, given that a British passport holder would pay US$80 to enter Zambia for a single entry, and the UNIVISA cost US$50 for both Zimbabwe and Zambia and is valid for a month.
Tourism thrives on user-friendliness and ease of doing business, and the UNIVISA clearly falls into that category, therefore, making it more attractive than other competitive destinations.
L.R.M: Briefly outline efforts that your group has done or is doing to attract visitors and to dispel negative perceptions about Zimbabwe being an unsafe tourism destination?
R.K: Africa Albida Tourism has worked tirelessly for 25 years to promote Zimbabwe to the world and our track record speaks for itself in that regard, be it our own corporate initiatives or joint industry initiatives such as or the Best in the West packages with fellow tourism operators across Zimbabwe. We invest resources, time, energy and creativity into promoting our amazing country. Where I encounter negative perceptions about Zimbabwe they are usually related to the economy and what is happening on the ground, but as experienced at the World Travel Market in London just three weeks ago, not a single question or comment was raised about Zimbabwe being an unsafe tourist destination.
L.R.M: Briefly give an account of your entities and their uniqueness to visitors.
R.K: Africa Albida Tourism (AAT) is a Zimbabwe-owned hospitality group with a portfolio of world-class properties in Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe, and Chobe, Botswana. AAT’s hotels, lodges and restaurants are renowned for capturing the very essence of Africa in iconic destinations and luxurious surrounds for that unforgettable safari experience.
AAT’s flagship property is the Victoria Falls Safari Lodge, which has been voted the Best Safari Lodge/Resort Hotel in Zimbabwe for 20 consecutive years by the Association of Zimbabwe Travel Agents. It is situated just 4km from one of the Seven Natural Wonders of the World, and, built on a plateau, offering unrivalled views of sunsets and pristine bushveld, including a wildlife-rich waterhole.
Other properties are the Victoria Falls Safari Lodge the exclusive Victoria Falls Safari Club, the Victoria Falls Safari Suites, which are ideal for families and close-knit groups seeking space, comfort and privacy, and the self-catering Lokuthula Lodges. In addition, there is The Boma – Dinner & Drum Show, a must-do legendary experience, specialising in traditional African dining, drumming and dancing.
In Botswana, we have the Ngoma Safari Lodge. Located on the edge of Botswana’s Chobe National Park, home to the largest herds of elephant on earth, this luxurious boutique was recently described in Town & Country magazine as perhaps “the finest safari lodge in Africa”. It is an oasis in a wildlife wonderland.
AAT prides itself in being regional leaders in sustainable tourism, ensuring both the local communities and the environment benefit from visitors.

Sunday 27 November 2016

New look Victoria Falls Airport boon for Zim tourism

Freedom Mupanedemo 

By mid-morning on Saturday November 19 2016 the Victoria Falls International Airport was already busy with a coterie of aircrafts — from wide bodied to small ones. The previous day, President Mugabe had set the ball rolling after commissioning this new-look world class airport and it was already humming with traffic, some planes preparing to take off while some had their engines still running after a safe landing and others in the hanger.

It’s a new look state-of the art-airport after the Government of Zimbabwe secured $150 million loan from a Chinese bank towards its refurbishment.

The international airport which thrive on the spectacular world class tourist attraction — the mighty Victoria Falls— is expected to boost tourist arrivals, now that it can accommodate wide bodied aircraft.

And with some counties like South Africa which are indirectly benefiting from this grand airport now upping their game, advertising the Victoria Falls like it was their own, the new Victoria Falls International Airport seems to have opened flood gates for airlines from across the globe.

After all, with a new 4km long and 60 metres wide runway nothing can stop this new airport from welcoming an aircraft of any size. Zimbabwe is also a signatory of the 1999 Yamoussoukro Declaration which promotes open skies policy and was ratified by over 14 African countries.

As I cast my eyes in admiration of this new and refreshing architectural splendour, I could see a British Airways Boeing 737-800 series kissing the tarmac as it landed, the springbok Boeing 737-800 series of South African Airways, Air Zimbabwe Boeing 767 and Air Namibia’s Embraer 135 all looking like ghostly figures across the airfield.

With the airport now operating 24/7, tourists now have reason to make a date with one of the world’s renowned natural wonders described by the colonial explorer, David Livingstone as “so beautiful that even Angels on their flight to heaven should have stopped and gazed!”

Victoria Falls is now within touching distance to the world but how Zimbabwe stands to realise the gains from this million dollar project?

In this day and age where the world has become one global village, air transportation is fast proving a vital cog in the development of economies hence the ‘open skies policy’ mantra reaching fever pitch at every government economic recovery strategy fora.

In his address during the official opening of the Victoria Falls Airport, President Mugabe was quick to point to the need by the Government to quickly restructure the Civil Aviation Authority of Zimbabwe (CAAZ) to separate the regulatory authority from airport management functions in line with the international best practices.

“Now that the Victoria Falls Airport is complete, I urge the ministry (of Transport and Infrastructure Development) to move to achieving our aim to making Zimbabwe the regional hub of Southern Africa,” said President Mugabe.

The Victoria Falls are by far one of the world’s most famous tourist attractions. Before the refurbishment of the airport, wide bodied planes were landing in Livingston Zambia, yet the most attractive sites of the falls are in Zimbabwe.

As they say, the Victoria Falls are like a woman, if you want the back side you go to Zambia and if you want the front side, you obviously come to Zimbabwe.

In order to reap the full benefits from the Victoria Falls International Airport, there is need to free the air space and Tourism and Hospitality Minister, Dr Walter Mzembi is on record calling for the open skies policy.

There is also need to review prices across all sectors, setting attractive accommodation prices as well as those for other activities so as to lure more tourists to the destination.

“Besides the open skies policy, there is also need for us to be competitive as a destination. As it is some countries are benefiting through offering affordable prices and encouraging tourists across to globe to come to their countries where they would be offered packages to fly to Victoria Falls and back with Zimbabwe getting a small chunk of the cake as tourists chose the cheaper way,” said Dr Mzembi.

Hospitality Association of Zimbabwe president, Mr George Manyuma said the tourism sector would be gathering for its annual conference soon with the issue of prices one of the meeting’s agenda.
He says with the prevailing pricing regime, the country was out bidding itself despite it being one of the best destinations in Southern Africa.

“There has been a lot of talk about high prices in the tourism industry and in our annual conference the pricing regime would be part of the agenda,” he said. - Zimpapers Syndication Services.

Source: New look Victoria Falls Airport boon for Zim tourism (24/11/16)

Monday 21 November 2016

Mugabe Commissions Vic Falls Airport, Says New Look Facility to Boost Tourism

PRESIDENT Mugabe Friday officially commissioned the new look Victoria Falls International Airport, in what he termed a milestone in the ruling governments' economic blue-print-Zim-Asset.
China Jiangsu carried out upgrading work which commenced in February 2013 and funded by China Exim Bank on a concessionary loan of $150 million.
Mugabe, who was supposed to arrive at the venue at 9.10AM, only arrived at 12 noon and immediately unveiled the plaque before touring the new international terminal.
In his address, Mugabe said the new look airport was a key enabler for development.
"This development indeed signifies exciting times ahead for our aviation and tourism sectors. The upgrading of the airport paves way for Victoria Falls Town to become a tourist hub for Zimbabwe, SADC and the rest of the continent," he said in a brief speech.
The 92-year old initially forgot to announce that the airport was officially opened and returned to the podium to do so.
New developments at the airport which is now able to handle wide bodied aircraft such as Airbus A340, Boeing 777 and Boeing 787, include a 4km runway, international terminal building, fire station, control tower and installation of the state of the art specialist aviation equipment and the upgrading of the old airport into a domestic terminal building among others.
It now can accommodate 1,500 000 passengers per year, up from the previous 500 000
"After the completion of this project, visitors and tourists from Europe, Asia, the Middle-East can fly directly into Victoria Falls and experience one of the Seven Wonders of the World. There are well advanced plans for several airlines to fly directly to Victoria Falls," said President Mugabe.
"I therefore urge the Ministry of Transport and Infrastructural Development and the Civil Aviation Authority of Zimbabwe and the Ministry of Tourism to work closely together to market the project for economic benefits."
Source: Mugabe Commissions Vic Falls Airport, Says New Look Facility to Boost Tourism (20/11/16)

Wednesday 16 November 2016

Vic Falls hosts eco-musical event for wildlife

Leonard Ncube in Victoria Falls

ENVIRONMENTALISTS in conjunction with tour operators and hotels in Victoria Falls are organising a musical show to raise $50 000 which will be used towards fighting human-wildlife conflict. The first ever eco-musical event dubbed Elefenst2016 has been slated for December 17 at Riverside – on the edges of the Zambezi River.

Artistes from the resort town – Evicted, Mackay, Flying Bantu, Army and the Calamities, Kweseka Band, So Kindly and Bud Cockcroft & friends are billed to perform with more national artistes set to be unveiled.

Show organiser Guy Cockcroft said they wanted to raise funds to erect a solar electric fence around a dumpsite near Masue River. The project also includes setting up a string of beehives between Mkhosana suburb and the Chamabondo National Park and Zambezi National Park (elephants are afraid of bees) to prevent elephants from straying into human settlements as well as erecting another electric fence around the Big Tree where elephants have killed people before.

“The initial target is $50 000 but even if we reach this, plans are underway to make the fundraising an ongoing annual event,” Cockroft said.

“We hope to erect a fence around the dumpsite after realising that every night, there’re elephants and other species scavenging for food which end up eating plastics. An elephant eats about 2 000kgs of grass daily and that includes plastics and researchers from Victoria Falls Wildlife Trust have been finding dead animals with plastic in their abdomen.”

Elefenst2016 will be a family fun day as people are encouraged to come out to support the cause.

“We’re appealing for corporate sponsorship in cash or kind,” said Cockroft.

Organisations involved in the fundraising include Victoria Falls Green Fund, Environment Africa, Shearwater, Wilderness Safaris, Victoria Falls Hotel and Beauty Guest Lodge. Tickets for the show are already on sale with the cheapest being $10. VIP tickets are being sold for $60.


Source: Vic Falls hosts eco-musical event for wildlife (14/11/16)

Transforming Livingstone into a premier conferencing destination

[From The Lusaka Times, Zambia]

GOVERNMENT’s intentions of transforming Livingstone into a premier conferencing centre in Southern Africa next year is a step in the right direction in terms of increasing tourist arrivals to Zambia’s Tourist Capital, Zambia Tourism Agency (ZTA) managing director Felix Chaila has said.
In his address to National Assembly on Friday during the presentation of the 2017 Budget, Finance Minister Felix Mutati said the Government would next year transform Livingstone into a premier conferencing centre in Southern Africa to leverage on the infrastructure developments that had been undertaken.
Speaking in an interview yesterday, Mr Chaila said Livingstone was an attractive destination but it lacked adequate conference facilities and hence the move by the Government would increase tourist arrivals.
“This is a welcome move because Livingstone is already an attractive destination and conferences will be an added incentive.
“Tourists are looking for destinations that have a diverse product range including conferences,” Mr Chaila said.
He said the move was also in line with the growing global trend of promoting the Meetings, Incentives, Conferences and Exhibitions (MICE) industry.
The MICE industry is currently one of the fastest growing segments of the tourism base world over as it mainly attracted local tourists.
Globally, the MICE segment carters for about 400, 000 events annually across the globe with a total of about US$ 280 billion out of which about 14, 000 are meetings, conferences, conventions and congresses involving professional associations, corporate bodies, religious groups and inter-governmental bodies.
Most tourism enterprises are now investing in conference rooms to capture this business segment which assures high room occupancy rates and increased consumption of food and beverages among others.
Mr Chaila said there was need to ensure that people who travel to Livingstone to view the Victoria Falls also had an opportunity to enjoy other facilities such as resorts and conferences.
He the Kavango-Zambezi Transfrontier Conservation Area (KAZA TFCA) region, which include five Southern African Countries including Zambia, had also identified MICE as one of the industries which could grow the tourism sector.
“During the 20th session of the United Nations World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO) General Assembly, Zambia had to partner with Zimbabwe to host the event because we did not have inadequate conference facilities in Livingstone and Victoria Falls Town.
“We also have been struggling to host large groups of tourists because of the same challenge and so the move by the Government will boost the sector,” Mr Chaila said.
Last week, a high powered delegation comprising of five Cabinet Ministers met China Africa Cotton which is planning to invest US$ 50 million to construct a world-class hotel and a sky wheel with a 5, 000 capacity conference facility in the Victoria Falls area of Livingstone.

Sunday 13 November 2016

Vic Falls is ours, not yours: Zim tells SA

SOUTH Africa must stop advertising Victoria Falls as its own destination, as Zimbabwe is losing out in terms of tourism revenues, deputy chief secretary to the President and Cabinet, Ray Ndhlukula, has said.
Speaking at an All Stakeholders Zimbabwe Image Management workshop in Harare yesterday, Ndhlukula said it was disturbing that tourists were now flying in and out of Zimbabwe on the same day.
“Do you know South Africa advertises Victoria Falls as if it belongs to South Africa? That is what they do. A lot of people (tourists) get the impression that Victoria Falls is part of South Africa. So, for example, they get to the Victoria Falls at 10am, view the falls, they have lunch there and then at 4pm, they are flying out,” he said.
“There are some people, who have asked if Victoria Falls is in South Africa, but South Africans do not tell them it is in Zimbabwe, which is very unfair for us. It is an issue we need to discuss with South Africa. Now, that we have got a bilateral agreement, they must stop advertising Victoria Falls as theirs.”
The workshop was aimed at improving the Zimbabwean brand.
Victoria Falls is the country’s premier tourist destination and has the second highest tourist occupancy rate after Harare.
The Zimbabwe Tourism Authority first quarter report shows that Victoria Falls had an occupancy rate of 35% from 450 572 tourists, who visited the country during that period.
The threat of neighbouring countries, mainly, South Africa and Zambia, was seen when occupancy levels declined by 2% from the first quarter of 2015.
Zimbabwe Council of Tourism (ZCT) president, Francis Ngwenya said “something” needed to be done, as the competition from neighbouring countries had become a major challenge facing the tourism sector.
“The reason why South Africa started marketing the country as theirs was because during the 2008/9 crisis, Zimbabwe could only market the country with South Africa and Zambia. This led to our brand (Zimbabwe) being overtaken. So something needs to be done,” he said.
Ngwenya said the country had to use Zambia and South Africa because of the negative perception that came from the 2008/9 period.
An analyst said that from his previous experience, the only way to market Victoria Falls and stop other countries from elbowing out Zimbabwe was to offer a very attractive package that would lure tourists to explore the country beyond Victoria Falls.
In 2015, ZCT polled 145 tourists staying at Victoria Falls, and discovered 74% to be using international agents in making their trip, with only 10% preferring local agents. The average budget for tourists was $1 900 per visit.
However, ZCT found that 52% of them underestimated the costs and ended up spending more than their budget.
The average stay for a tourist is two to three nights.

Friday 11 November 2016

Conservationists in human-wildlife quandary

Sydney Kawadza, Senior Features Writer, The Herald

As delegates to the State of Kavango Zambezi Trans-Frontier Conservation Area Symposium in Victoria Falls wrapped up the conference it was not hard to pick the anecdotes shared among the wildlife conservation gurus.

The anecdotes were both classical and, somehow, saddening. Most of these stories involved discussions on human-wildlife conflict in the KAZA region.

Five countries — Zimbabwe, Zambia, Botswana, Namibia and Angola — signed the KAZA TFCA Treaty to conserve bio-diversity and market it using nature-based tourism as the engine for rural economic growth and development.

The commendable project has had its successes and challenges but the stories of human beings and animals facing off for food and scarce resources has been of major concern.

Imagine warthogs rushing towards residential areas when women start scouring their pots in Chinotimba Township in Victoria Falls. The warthogs, wildlife and tourist attractions to some, is a delicacy to others.

The animals have become prey to crafty residents turned poachers who feed the warthogs with traditional beer to become easy prey when they are tipsy. “That could be far-fetched but can you imagine that some people have stripped game parks of their fences to tie tomatoes in their gardens.

“They are suffering now when elephants destroy the same crops. Other wild animals also attack their livestock just because people have removed the fences around conservancies,” said conservation expert based in Zambia.

These tales could have been hilarious and unbelievable but the human-wildlife conflict has had fatal consequences.

In Zimbabwe, according to Environment, Water and Climate Minister Oppah-Kashiri, 19 people have lost their lives in human-wildlife conflicts since January this year.

Noting the hardships affecting communities living next to wildlife, Minister Muchinguri-Kashiri said a further 13 people had been injured in these incidents.

“In many areas within Southern Africa, and in Zimbabwe in particular, wildlife kills human beings and livestock every year leading to serious conflicts with local communities,” she said.
Farmers have also lost 18 cattle, 11 donkeys and 105 goats to predators.

This, Minister Muchinguri-Kashiri said, called for wildlife conservation practitioners to craft solutions to these challenges.

She said these solutions could be converted into opportunities to create assets and capital for business while facilitating benefit-sharing from wildlife conservation programmes.

“The role of rural communities in the KAZA TFCA programme is a key factor in the management of natural resources, especially considering the vast base of natural assets and rich cultural resources that local communities preside over and present in their areas.

“Our wildlife heritage must always play a fundamental role in overall development of our communities and poverty alleviation.

“The survival of our wildlife resources will obviously depend on their relationship with the people and our desire is to see wildlife conservation paying for itself is a sustainable manner.”

Speaking on behalf of traditional leaders, Chief Shana, Mr Jonah Neluswi said people only killed wild animals through ignorance.

“For people to see an animal and kill it for food would be from not knowing how to protect it and how to benefit from it.

“That’s what is lacking within the communities.”

Chief Shana, however, said communities have seen hunters from outside killing the animals while they do not draw any benefits from conservation programmes.

“They see how other people come and hunt the animals and so they also want to do the same but that is not the way it should be.

“We always encourage our people to know is that even our forefathers looked after the wild animals and they would only kill them if there was a genuine reason for that,” he said.

Chief Shana called on KAZA authorities to educate the communities on how to benefit from the natural resources.

“We should be taught how we can form Trusts so that we can benefit from the animals that are in our areas,” he said.

“If we have anything we want to build like clinics, schools, roads, we can develop ourselves from the resources.”

Chief Shana, however, noted efforts being made to conserve tree and animal species in Zimbabwe.
“In this part we conserve trees and animals because we appreciate the fact that it’s our heritage and wealth.

“Wildlife is part of us and without our animals and trees Hwange district would never have been popular. Even Victoria Falls itself, we conserve the river! It’s part of us!”
KAZA TFCA executive director Dr Morris Mutsambiwa however focused on the positive aspects of the initiative.

“In the past 10 years, KAZA has made a few strides, definitely, in 2006 when the MoU was singed here in Victoria Falls we were at a different stage

“Now we can record the successes that we have made and also the challenges that that we are addressing,” he said.

Dr Mutsambiwa said the fact that KAZA had a working structure working on its development.
“The structure comprises the ministries responsible for the environment, the permanent secretaries, senior Government officials, the joint management committee and the secretaries

“The joint management committee supervises the secretariat and I can say that this structure is working to address specific technical issues such as conservation, security, tourism development,” he said.

KAZA TFCA is now seized with a programme on addressing the issues to do with community participation in wildlife conservation.

Dr Mutsambiwa said several documents have also been prepared to assist in the development of KAZA.

“For example, one of the major activities will be the stakeholder engagement so that they are with us from the beginning.

“We have a document that was produced in 2011 which is a stakeholders’ business strategy.

“We have an integrated development plan for each country which have now been put as the master document integrated development plan.”

Dr Mutsambiwa said the master document was the framework for the KAZA development into the future for the next five years from 2015 – 2019.

“That is the plan under implementation and it is the framework for development into the next five years,” he said.

In terms of assisting Government agencies responsible for conservation, Dr Mutsambiwa said, KAZA had assisted member countries in infrastructure development programmes.

“We have to put up infrastructure, for example, the Sioma Ngwezi National Park in Zambia, the park was established a long time ago, 50 years ago.

“However, the park did not have a headquarters to operate from but we have established one for them to operate from — that is, offices, staff houses, workshops — and everything to make itself contained establishment,” he said.

Dr Mutsambiwa said in addition to infrastructure development there has been procurement of equipment, vehicles and boats to make it easier for staff to be deployed during law enforcement activities. He, however, bemoaned the co-ordination challenges between member countries.

“The difficulties are bringing all the partners and/or ministers together and we managed to bring three ministers to Zimbabwe but we would have loved to have all of them deliberating with stakeholders,” he said.

He said the KAZA TFCA was working with one funding partner and this affected the implementation of programmes.

“We are looking implementing the third phase of our programmes which would help us implement the integrated development strategy on three sites.

“He had, however, identified six sites for the programme but due to lack of funding we will be working on three wildlife dispersal areas,” he said.

KAZA was now working on sourcing funding or the other three sites.

Dr Mutsambiwa said there was also need to expedite the harmonisation of the different legislation from the parties to the KAZA Treaty.

“It’s a difficult process because the TFCA programme is about feeding off the sovereignty for the common good.

“We are expecting more difficulties when we ask the governments to shed off some of their authorities to local communities.

“It is naturally inherent to us to keep what we have so there is need for stakeholder engagement so we need to take this participation seriously,” he said.

The KAZA TFCA is Africa’s largest conservation landscape and the world’s largest trans-frontier conservation initiative. It seeks to develop the management of shared natural and cultural resources to derive equitable socio-economic benefits for member countries.

Source: Conservationists in human-wildlife quandary (10/11/16)

Tuesday 1 November 2016

Zim tourism peaks as festive season approaches

THE Zimbabwe tourism industry is beginning to wake up from its slumber with the country’s prime tourist destinations starting to witness increased activities and bookings ahead of the festive season, officials in the industry have said.

Zimbabwe, which according to the Zimbabwe Council of Tourism (ZCT) heavily depends on tourists from the neighbouring South Africa, has been struggling to tick largely because of the slump of the rand against the United States dollar.

But with the festive season approaching, players in the industry said they are expecting a boon with hotels and activities in the resort area of Victoria Falls already seeing an improved number of bookings for the months of November and December.

Tourism Employees and Tour Operators Association president Clement Mkwasi told Zimpapers Syndication that some hotels in the resort town of Victoria Falls were already fully booked for November and December.

“Likewise, some activities are already fully booked for the month of November and December here in Victoria Falls. This is expected of the festive season in a prime and world class tourist destination like the Victoria Falls. We are inundated with tourists making inquiries for the festive seasons,” he said.

Mkwasi said the culture of using plastic money that the country recently embraced is likely to improve business within the industry with tourists not necessarily needing to carry hard cash as has been the norm.

“We are having a number of domestic tourists also taking advantage of the plastic money to place their bookings,” he said.

Mkwasi said the coming in of the bond notes in the coming weeks was expected to help ease cash crisis thereby improving business.

“There has been some reservations with regards to the introduction of the bond notes but as an industry I don’t think this is really an issue to us.

The fact that they will be in smaller denominations will ease pressure in doing small business transactions like buying food and change,” he said.

Hospitality Association of Zimbabwe president George Manyumwa said 2016 was a bad year for the tourism industry but the situation was beginning to change with the festive season.

“The festive season has always been the yardstick on which to measure our business for the year. We are beginning to feel it. Business is picking now and we hope things will continue in this positive direction.

Manyumwa said tourism players would be convening an annual congress later next month to review the year.

“With the slump of the rand in value against the dollar, the liquidity crunch among other factors, this year has been one to forget for the industry.

But we hope to convene our annual congress next month to reflect on the year and come up with strategies that can make this important industry to the Zimbabwean economy grow,” he said. - Zimpapers Syndication.

Source: Zim tourism peaks as festive season approaches (31/10/16)