Leonard Ncube in Victoria Falls
TOUR operators in Victoria Falls recorded brisk business during the recent annual Jameson Vic Falls Carnival.
The three-day event started on Thursday last week and ended New Year’s Eve with scores booking for activities during the period.
Different activities were fully booked for the three days and those who did not make prior arrangements failed to book.
Despite a generally subdued festive season owing to the weakening South African rand and lack of disposable income among locals, fortunes changed on Wednesday last week as thousands of travellers started arriving for the carnival.
Streets were fully packed with people and traffic while scores visited the Rainforest, Victoria Falls Bridge and other resort points dotted around.
Employers’ Association of Tourism and Safari Operators president Mr Clement Mukwasi said the biggest winner was the food industry as restaurants and eateries were all fully subscribed.
“The main area of benefit was the food area where all restaurants were filled to the brim,” said Mr Mukwasi.
He said besides the food industry, boat cruises were also 100 percent booked for the period.
“The second activity to reap high were cruises as almost every company was fully booked. Most had double trips which were all 100 percent full for the three days, which means that those who hadn’t made prior bookings couldn’t do any,” he added.
Mr Mukwasi said the carnival brought significant benefits for the tourism industry, adding that “these were very good three days of the year as capacities reached maximum.”
He said helicopter flights, which were also fully booked were affected by the weather as it was raining.
Scores others visited the Rainforest, Victoria Falls Bridge, The Snake Pit and Crocodile Farm among other activities.
Although she could not give figures, The Snake Pit manager Mrs Rina Greenland said they recorded a significant number of visitors.
“We usually have people coming to see and today people from the carnival have been coming since morning,” she said on Saturday.
Ms Sizile Nkosi from South Africa said: “I am usually scared of snakes but when I heard there is a snake pit I just thought I should pop in with my friends. It’s amazing.”
Newly introduced Zambezi Tram was also a hit as visitors booked for a tour of the Victoria Falls Bridge and Rainforest by rail.
However, Hospitality Association of Zimbabwe (HAZ) Victoria Falls chapter chairman Mr Chris Svovah said the occupancy rate had declined compared to 2015.
He attributed the decline to the fact that some locals have turned their houses into mini-lodges hence they take a significant number of people who could be booked in mainstream hotels and lodges.
Mr Svovah said the carnival had brought significant business as he commended the organisers for the annual event.
“From our assessment the occupancy rate has gone down in Victoria Falls despite a high number of people that attended the carnival. We would want to thank the carnival organisers for the event, which we know was a success and we believe will grow bigger going forward as it has put Victoria Falls on the world map,” he said.
HAZ reported a nationwide 80 percent hotel occupancy rate during the festive season, with Victoria Falls standing at 85 percent.
Source: Rich pickings for Vic-Falls businesses at carnival (06/01/17)
More: Vic Falls Carnival: When nature’s splendour meets hard partying (07/01/17)