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Friday 31 March 2017

Tourism businesses develop waiting facilities at problem border crossing

Leonard Ncube In Victoria Falls

PLAYERS in the tourism industry in Victoria Falls have mobilised resources to build a holding shed at Kazungula Border post to provide resting places for tourists entering the country.

This comes amid reports some tourists have fainted at the border because of excessive direct heat as they wait to be served by immigration and revenue officers.

Representatives of the industry, Mr Chris Svovah, who is chairperson of Hospitality Association of Zimbabwe Victoria Falls chapter, Zimbabwe Council for Tourism Matabeleland North representative, Mrs Barbara Murasiranwa and Mr Farai Chimba, who is Victoria Falls Hotel deputy general manager, visited the border post last week to assess progress on the construction site.

The project has been on the cards for some time and Mrs Murasiranwa last year appealed to the Zimbabwe Tourism Authority to help as she claimed the Zimbabwe Revenue Authority was throwing spanners on the grounds that 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 (the shed)”.

Mr Svovah said the shed, with a capacity of 100 people, has already been constructed on the Zimbabwean entry side.

“As HAZ we noted with concern that tourists who come through Kazungula Border Post endure scorching heat as they wait to be cleared at the border. This coupled with incessant rains becomes a challenge to our visitors as they wait in long queues for border procedures hence we decided to build a shed at our own cost,” said Mr Svovah.

He said the first phase cost $8 500 mobilised from a number of players who chipped in and the second phase where a similar shed will be built on the exit side, will push the figure to $12 500.
Said Mr Svovah: “Last week we visited the border when workmen delivered building material of which today I am happy to report that there has been tremendous progress. Poles and trusses have been erected and painted. As we speak they are mounting the roof and the shed will be ready in the next two days.”

Mr Svovah said the idea was to ensure that tourists are not exhausted on entering the country so they can visit many resort areas and book for activities.

“Overally, we want our visitors to be fresh when entering the country so they can explore what we have to offer. We want them to enjoy Victoria Falls,” he said.

Over the years, the industry, led by HAZ, has given mineral water to tourists at ports of entry such as the Victoria Falls International Airport, Victoria Falls and Kazungula Border Posts at its own expense as a way of welcoming them into the country. This was to cool them down from high temperatures.

The holding shed will come in handy especially against the backdrop of the re-introduction of the Kavango-Zambezi (KAZA) Uni-Visa, which facilitates free movement between Zimbabwe and Zambia as well as Botswana. Since the re-launch, arrivals have increased by about 15 percent, authorities said.

Source: Haz mobilises resources to erect shed (30/03/17)

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

Tuesday 28 March 2017

80,000 more tourists a year expected into Vic Falls

By Lovemore Ranga Mataire
AT least 80,000 tourists are annually expected to fly into Victoria Falls as two large international airlines have already committed to the destination, a leading tourism leader has said.
In an interview, Africa Albida Tourism (AAT) chief executive, Ross Kennedy, said the month of March heralded a new dawn for tourism, with the arrival of South African Airways’ A330-200.
He said the South African Airways began operating an Airbus daily to Victoria Falls from Johannesburg on March 1. The Airbus A330-200 is the largest passenger aircraft ever to land at Zimbabwe’s top resort town.
According to Civil Aviation Authority of Zimbabwe, the A330-200 has 222 seats, 88 more than the smaller aircraft and so far inbound flights are heavily booked until the end of the month with demand growing daily.
Besides South African Airways, Africa’s largest airline, Ethiopian Airlines, will also begin four weekly flights from Addis Ababa to Victoria Falls on March 26 while Kenyan Airways will begin direct flights three times a week from Nairobi on May 18.
The Ethiopian Airlines flight route will be Addis Ababa – Victoria Falls – Gaborone – Addis Ababa, while Kenya Airways will fly Nairobi – Victoria Falls – Cape Town – Victoria Falls – Nairobi.
Kennedy, who is also African Travel and Tourism Association chairman, said these routes would create new access to Africa’s iconic tourist destinations, with visitors now easily able to visit the Maasai Mara, Serengeti, Victoria Falls and Cape Town in one trip.
“Tourists will also be able to take in the history, culture and birding of Ethiopia with one of the Seven Natural Wonders of the World, Victoria Falls, which is the gateway to the rest of Zimbabwe, as well as Zambia, Namibia and Botswana.
“These new route connections will give the opportunity to innovative members of the travel industry to create new packages and destination linkages for tourists,” he said.
In addition, newcomer low-cost carrier Rainbow Airlines launched its weekly Harare to Victoria Falls flight on January 25.
The new US$150 million Victoria Falls International Airport, which includes a new 4km long, 60m wide runway, enabling long-haul wide-bodied aircraft to land, was opened by President Robert Mugabe last November.
AAT is a Zimbabwe-owned hospitality group, which operates a portfolio of properties in Victoria Falls, including Victoria Falls Safari Lodge, Victoria Falls Safari Club, Victoria Falls Safari Suites, Lokuthula Lodges, and Ngoma Safari Lodge in Chobe, Botswana.
Victoria Falls is located in the heart of the Kavango Zambezi (KAZA) Transfrontier Conservation Area, which boasts of some of the most pristine and diverse wildlife areas left on the planet.

Wednesday 22 March 2017

ZRU plans to build stadium in Vic Falls

Leonard Ncube in Victoria Falls

ZIMBABWE Rugby Union (ZRU) has approached the Victoria Falls Town Council for land to build a permanent rugby stadium in the resort town.

This follows the inaugural Kwese Sports Victoria Falls Sevens rugby tournament that was won by the Cheetahs, who beat Namibia 24-7 in the final.

The tournament, which featured four nations, including Zimbabwe, will be staged in Victoria Falls for the next five years, as organisers want to develop the game in the resort town to attract international events and clubs.

ZRU president Nyararai Sibanda said engagements with council were at an advanced stage to acquire land for the ground.

“We have engaged the council and had a positive response. We want to have a stadium, but this won’t be next year because courting partners is a process,” said Sibanda.

He said ZRU would spearhead the project with the help of partners, while a trust will also be established, as the union wants to build a legacy in the resort town.

Victoria Falls is usually quiet in terms of sport, with the Victoria Falls Marathon, ironically sponsored by Econet, the mother company to Kwese Sport, the only major sporting event on the calendar.

If the ZRU plans succeed, this would put the resort town on the world map and maybe attract the rugby world.

Similar plans have also been mooted by Zimbabwe Cricket, which was allocated land in the industrial area to build a 10 000-seater stadium, although the plans have been put on hold due to lack of funding.

There are plans to move the Kwese Sports Sevens Rugby event to the Elephant Hills Grounds where there is a soccer pitch wider than the one at Victoria Falls Primary School.

Sibanda said this would be decided by a committee that will sit in April to deliberate on the matter.
Victoria Falls town clerk Ronnie Dube recently told a full council meeting that the local authority would start projects of rehabilitating and developing sporting facilities so that the resort town can also grow its sport tourism potential.

Source: ZRU plans to build stadium in Vic Falls (21/03/17)

NGO Says Chinese Men Paying $2 for Sex With Little Girls in Vic Falls

CHINESE nationals in Victoria Falls are taking advantage of poverty stricken underage girls whom they are offering $2 for sex, an investigation by a local child rights lobby organization has found.
The investigation by the Zimbabwe Council for the Welfare of Children, (ZNCWC) sought to establish the number of young girls aged 18 years and below engaging in commercial sex work throughout the country.
According to the report, this has been happening in the resort town for the past five years when government, through the Civil Aviation of Zimbabwe, commissioned expansion of Victoria Falls International Airport.
ZNCWC carried the research in selected HIV hot spots throughout the country where it interviewed a sample of 300 respondents.
"While young girls were noted at all the study sites, extremely younger ages were noted in Hwange and Victoria Falls," read part of the report which took a year to be concluded and whose results were published last week.
"In Hwange, the main reason reported to be pushing young girls into sex was house hold poverty triggered by high unemployment rates, whereas in Victoria Falls the main reason provided was the existence of the Victoria Falls international Airport construction community amid surrounding communities in Lupinyu that are marred by poverty and lack of fees to attend school," the report said.
Some of the people who were involved in the construction of the Victoria Falls International Airport included Chinese nationals some of whom the researchers said they found negotiating sex with young girls.
"During data collection the research team witnessed Chinese employees at the airport construction company soliciting for sexual services for as little as $2 from young girls," the investigation said.
ZNCWC said most of the young sex workers whom they interviewed had no idea of how to use condoms during the course of their work, thereby, making them vulnerable to HIV and AIDS.
Source: NGO Says Chinese Men Paying $2 for Sex With Little Girls in Vic Falls (21/03/17)

Ancient Origins -Evolution of the Zambezi

Reproduced from the Zambezi Society March 2017 Newsletter


Lovers of the Zambezi River who are interested in learning more about its very ancient history, will be delighted to read a fascinating article by Fenton "Woody" Cotterill, Andy Moore and Roger Key which was reproduced in the The African Fisherman magazine last year.  

The article is a non-technical summary of the original paper published in the South African Journal of Geology under the title:  ‘The Zambezi River: an archive of tectonic events linked to Gondwana amalgamation and disruption, and subsequent evolution of the African Plate’. 
What is particularly fascinating to the layman about this latest research is a) geological study now establishes the ancient Proto-Zambezi as the Earth's oldest-known river (minimum 280 million years old) and b) that the ancient Proto-Zambezi ran in exactly the opposite direction (west across Africa into the Karoo) to what it does today (east into the Indian Ocean). 

We reproduce an extract below: (you can read the full article via the link given at the end): "Africa's Zambezi is now established as Earth's oldest known river – the direct descendent of an ancient Proto‑Zambezi river. The origins of the Zambezi have been deciphered from geological evidence across the vast wilderness of the Chicoa, Gwembe, Luangwa, Mana and Sebungwe valleys of south‑central Africa; here, rock formations and landforms preserve the central repository of the river’s history back into the Palaeozoic Era before 280 Ma (million years ago).The Proto-Zambezi river originated in the drainage system that was established as vast Dwyka ice-sheets were receding across the super-continent of Gondwana. At this time the immense highlands of the Trans-Gondwana mountains directed the westerly flow of glacial meltwaters into the interior of Gondwana. With its catchment entirely contained within Gondwana, this massive river sustained a vast, inland sea centred on modern‑day Botswana.... 

..An unbroken chain of evidence places a minimum age of 280 Ma on the Zambezi's origins, when Gondwana’s ice-sheets began to melt as the super-continent drifted northwards. Central Africa’s rift valleys preserve the rock ledgers (historic record) that tell us the Proto‑Zambezi existed long before Africa became a continent. Importantly, this geological record of the ancestral Proto‑Zambezi is contiguous with the modern river. In particular, the evidence reveals that precursors of the modern Luangwa and Middle Zambezi already existed in the early Permian. This geological record in the Luangwa and Middle Zambezi valleys (the central African rifts) has survived despite the complete reversal of the Zambezi’s flow caused by Gondwana’s breakup, which forged the African continent.

The west-flowing Proto-Zambezi drainage system maintained a vast inland Karoo sea (K).  The original extent of the Karoo sediments was likely larger before the breakup and erosion associated with the daughter continents of Gondwana.  This map details the centres of Karoo deposition (shallow lakes, seas and deltas) depicted in darker shading, as presented in surviving rock formations in southern and central Africa. The superimposed dashed line approximates the position of the modern, east-flowing Zambezi river.

The greatest change in over 280 million years of the Zambezi’s evolution entailed the complete reversal of its flow.  The process of break up was protracted, as over millions of years, river by river, flow in the Proto‑Zambezi’s catchment was redirected into the Indian Ocean, to reduce the significance of the Proto‑Zambezi’s inland terminus (in central Botswana).... 

....Geologically recent captures of the Chobe, Kafue and Upper Zambezi testify to the relative youth of the (modern) river’s topology.  The Great Equatorial Divide on Africa’s high plateaux comprises the Zambezi’s modern watershed, and its present position testifies to repeated re-shuffles of links between long lived rivers. To summarize, we now estimate the modern Zambezi basin to be barely 250 thousand years old.......

...Its status as Earth’s oldest, big river – yet known – underwrites the conservation status of the Luangwa‑Zambezi wilderness. The geological continuity preserved across these landscapes reveals how the ecosystems of the Zambezi have endured in an unbroken chain, ever since the first ecosystems of Dwyka times formed along glacial streams. The criterion of Ancient Evolutionary Heritage positions the Zambezi as a unique outlier among Earth’s most spectacular landscapes, including the Grand Canyon. One is challenged to name World Heritage Sites that match these iconic values, in preserving comparable geological and paleoecological records."

This summary article is reproduced in full by The African Fisherman in print (issue 172 - April/May 2016) or online at this link.  

The full scientific article is re-produced as a downloadable PDF on the Zambezi Society website HERE.

Tuesday 14 March 2017

Uni-Visa boosts arrivals in Vic Falls

Tourist arrivals at prime holiday destination, the Victoria Falls have increased steadily since the re-launch of the Kavango-Zambezi (KAZA) Uni-Visa in December last year, an official has said.

The Uni-Visa allows visitors to stay in Zambia or Zimbabwe (or both) countries for up to 30 days for a single payment of $50. It also covers people who want to enter Botswana for day-trips through the Kazungula border post.

Zimbabwe Council for Tourism representative for Matabeleland North, Barbara Murasiranwa said arrivals had increased by about 15 percent since re-introduction of the visa regime.

“Arrivals into Victoria Falls via Zambia had gone down prior to the re-launch of the Uni-Visa, but right now arrivals improved significantly because now they (tourists) can just arrive in Zambia and then proceed to Zimbabwe after paying just $50 and they can still go back to Zambia or Zimbabwe again without facing any problems for a month,” she said.

“I can say this Uni-Visa is something that we definitely needed as a tourism region.”

The Uni-Visa regime was first introduced during the 2014 United Nations World Tourism Organisation general assembly that Zimbabwe and Zambia co-hosted but collapsed in December 2015 due to logistical and legal reasons.

After the general assembly, the two countries piloted the regime for several months with the idea of rolling it out across five countries in the Kavango-Zambezi Trans-frontier Conservation Area to promote tourism. The five countries included Namibia, Botswana, Angola, Zambia and Zimbabwe.

Source: Uni-Visa boosts arrivals in Vic Falls (13/03/17)

Vic Falls hotel occupancy rate remains flat, revenue increases slightly

By Tichaona Kurewa
VICTORIA FALLS – Occupancy rate for the eight major hotels in Victoria Falls remained unchanged in January 2017 at 28 percent compared to same period last year although revenue increased slightly owing to the re-introduction of the Uni-Visa between Zimbabwe and Zambia.
The hotels under review include A’ Zambezi, Cresta Sprayview Hotel, Elephant Hills Hotel, Ilala Lodge, Kingdom Hotel, Rainbow Hotel, Victoria Falls Hotel and Victoria Falls Safari Lodge which have a total of 1 125 rooms.
Statistics released by the Hospitality Association of Zimbabwe (HAZ) Victoria Falls chapter show that occupancy rate remained static although revenue rose marginally to US$1.342 million from US$1.308 million last year.
Figures from HAZ also show that the average daily rate for January 2017 increased slightly to US$136 from US$133 in the comparative period.
HAZ Victoria Falls chapter chairperson, Chris Svova, also attributed the slight increase in revenue to the spillover of tourists from the Victoria Falls Carnival held in December 2016.
“The slight increase in revenue is because of the Uni-Visa that was re-introduced before Christmas last year, a number of players were also offering some promotions to attract people, especially locals, into their properties,” Svova said.
He, however, said the depreciation of the rand against the US dollar had impacted negatively on tourist arrivals from South Africa, a major source market.
“Traditionally, we expect growth from neighbouring countries like South Africa where there is a large number of Zimbabwean diaspora, but maybe this time around they could also not travel because of the fluctuating rand rate.
“This made it very expensive for South African tourists or Zimbabweans based there to visit the country. This is one of the reasons why the occupancy percentage did not change,” he said.
He said prospects of increased tourist numbers in Victoria Falls were bright considering that wide-bodied aircraft had started plying the Victoria Falls route, following the commissioning of an expanded airport for the resort town.
New airliners such as Ethiopian and Kenyan airways are expected to fly into the resort town before mid-year, raising hopes for tourism players in Victoria Falls.
Located in Matabeleland North province, Victoria Falls is one of Zimbabwe’s major tourist attraction sites and one of the seven wonders of the world offering services such as game drive, falls viewing, cruising, canoeing and bungee jumping.

Monday 13 March 2017

Will Smith brings Victoria Falls to a standstill

It was a one hour spectacle, but Victoria Falls is still abuzz with news about Hollywood star Will Smith's surprise visit to the resort town last week.

Smith visited the world famous Victoria Falls bridge last Thursday afternoon where he took to bungee jumping.

His visit lifted the spirits of tourism players in the resort town, especially Shearwater, which made sure the actor fulfilled his dream to plunge into the mighty Zambezi.

Shearwater public relations manager, Clement Mukwasi said Smith's visit would put Zimbabwe on the world map.

"He arrived here yesterday [Thursday] at around 1pm, with two other family members and his bodyguard," Mukwasi said.

"He spent about an hour on the bridge touring and interacting with other tourists and locals before he left for Zambia as he had limited time.

"Smith is a world-class star who is renowned in all pillars and is respected worldwide, so being with us proved that it is a safe and attractive place. He has a good reputation while also testifying that it is not only an African wonder, but a world destination."

Mukwasi said Smith came well prepared for the adventure.

"He seemed excited as it was a goal set planned for a long time. He had a gopro camera in his hand, self-photographing and recording as he was jumping into the Zambezi," Mukwasi said.

"We are excited about his coming into Victoria Falls and this really is a seal of approval for the destination by the Hollywood star and coincidentally where he jumped off the bridge was the same point where the secretary-general and two presidents of Zambia and Zimbabwe signed a memorandum of agreement to seal the hosting of the United Nation World Tourism Organisation in 2013."

Nothando Ndlovu, a Victoria Falls resident who witnessed the spectacle, could not hide her joy after seeing the affable actor in real life.

"The atmosphere is still ecstatic and there is still disbelief that he was in town while some keep bragging that they had an opportunity to take some pictures with him though unfortunately some of us missed the opportunity," she said.

Smith reportedly arrived in Harry Mwaanga Nkumbula in Livingstone, Zambia at around 11am on Thursday aboard a private jet. He left Zambia the same day in the evening for an unknown destination.

Source: Will Smith brings Victoria Falls to a standstill (12/03/17)

More: Will Smith wipes bungee jumping from Victoria Falls off his bucket list (12/03/17)
This is crazy!' Will Smith fulfills dream of bungee jumping off Victoria Falls...and films the entire epic leap (10/03/17)

Hollywood’s Will Smith visits Vic Falls – BUT WHICH SIDE? (12/03/17)
Will Smith in Livingstone, what this means for Zimbabwe (undated)

Cecil Rhodes’ Grave in Zimbabwe Has Become an Awkward Tourist Attraction

The remains of British imperialist Cecil John Rhodes lie under a slab of stone atop a granite hill in Zimbabwe, largely unscathed by political ferment over a man whose colonial legacy rankles many in Africa nearly a century after his death.
Lizards scamper around a grave that, while occasionally vandalized, attracts tourists and has been tolerated by longtime ruler President Robert Mugabe, who turned 93 last month. In this picturesque place, the burial site of a historical figure who is increasingly vilified seems secure, for now, in a country that has long accused Western powers of clinging to a colonial mindset.
Monuments to colonial rule have been removed in many countries across Africa, though some remain. There is debate over whether to erase symbols of an era of white domination on the continent or preserve them as cautionary reminders of the past.
“There are certain things in history which you must leave for posterity’s sake,” Dumiso Dabengwa, a former home affairs minister in Zimbabwe who is now an opposition politician. “People must get to know — when they hear about Cecil John Rhodes and they want to see the place where he would want to rest — and be able to make up their minds about the type of man that he was.”
Rhodes, prime minister of the Cape Colony at the southern tip of Africa in the late 19th century, made a fortune in gold and diamond mining and grabbed land from the local population. He was the namesake of territories that eventually became the nations of Zimbabwe — formerly Rhodesia — and Zambia. Accusations that he was a racist have tainted his association with education and philanthropy.
Statues of Rhodes, who died in 1902, were uprooted in Zimbabwean cities after independence from white minority rule in 1980. He became a polarizing figure again in 2015 when students defaced a statue of him at South Africa’s University of Cape Town, which removed the monument. Last year, the University of Oxford in Britain, which allocates scholarships named after Rhodes, said it would not take down a statue of its benefactor despite protests by some students.
The Rhodes grave lies in Matobo National Park, a United Nations heritage site where granite spires and other unusual rock formations captivate visitors, and where indigenous spirits are said to dwell. About 15,000 people visit the grave annually, some ascending to watch the sunset or sunrise, said Moira FitzPatrick, a regional director for a state agency that oversees Zimbabwe’s museums and monuments.
The grave generates badly needed cash in a country beset by economic turmoil. A foreign adult pays $15 to get into the park, and then another $10 to see the burial site. A Zimbabwean adult pays a total of $8.
Mugabe came to this area near Bulawayo in western Zimbabwe for his birthday celebrations last month, addressing thousands of supporters near a school named after Rhodes. While officials announced that the school would be renamed after Matobo — also called Matopo or Matopos by visitors — the president joked about the British empire builder.

“Where is the ghost or spirit of Rhodes coming from?” Mugabe said in the Shona language. “If he is to rise from the dead, I am not going to order the boys to fire one bullet or use an AK-47. I will order them to use a machine gun to crush that head like that of a cobra.”

Friday 10 March 2017

Engineer proposes alternative Zambezi water project design

Leonard Ncube in Victoria Falls

A LOCAL engineering company has come up with a “smart” multi-million project design to draw raw water from the mighty Zambezi River to supply industry as well as export to neighbouring countries.

The design, named the Victoria Falls Gorges Green Power Project (VFGGPP), rides on the existing railway line and the Zimbabwe National Water Authority (Zinwa) infrastructure, with a pipeline linking the Zambezi River Basin (ZRB) to Bulawayo-Botswana and South Africa along the railway line.

The design aims to cut the estimated $2 billion project cost by 50 percent and is a proposed alternative to the National Matabeleland Zambezi Water Project (NMZWP), which has failed to take off since it was mooted in 1912.

The long awaited water project is meant among other things, to create a green belt stretching from Matabeleland North province to Bulawayo.

NMZWP is regarded as the panacea to water problems in Matabeleland Region with Sadc countries south of the Zambezi River also looking up to the project.

SouthPole Consulting Private Limited (SC), which was a fortnight ago awarded the Presidential Award of Distinction for outstanding research in the area of Renewable Energy by the Research Council of Zimbabwe (RCZ) in respect of the project, has concluded the design.

Engineer Tendai Tidings Musasa, the brains behind the project, said the modern Smart-Water-Grid (SWG)/smart technology project will cost far less than the NMZWP, which requires about $2 billion, with the pilot stage to commence mid-year requiring only $25 million.

Eng Musasa said besides providing local industry and export with raw water, the project is an infrastructure retrofit for National Railways of Zimbabwe (NRZ) as the pipeline will ride on already available railway equipment. He said the railway line is integral in the project as it provides readily available infrastructure needed.

“The idea came as I was pondering about how I can draw water to my farm. Seeing that I have to pump from the river then I realised this can be an alternative to NMZWP. In our design we have included the railway line because there will be need for an efficient transport system like railway to transport produce from command agriculture, for instance,” said Eng Musasa.

“The railway design matches the pipeline design as there are signal rooms, which are no longer being used and these will be used as pump houses. As engineers, it is up to us to innovate and come up with cost effective projects.

“This is why we are roping in the rail because it already has infrastructure, which means there won’t be a need for some civil works.”

Eng Musasa said the pipeline will run along the railway line to Botswana and South Africa, which in 2014 – signed a Water Commission Agreement with Zimbabwe targeting the Zambezi River Basin (ZRB) water supply projects.

“The project is basically a rail retrofit design to bring about a 21st century rail network and a Smart – Water – Grid mutual interoperability. The patented design is at least 700km railway servitude on the Victoria Falls-Bulawayo-Plumtree and Bulawayo-West Nicholson-Beitbridge rail routes assisted booster pump network, which will be an average 10km apart,” he said.

Along the pipeline farmers will be able to draw water for irrigation thereby creating a green belt. “The pilot phase of the project which is the feasibility study will start in the second quarter and this will determine the budget which we estimate to be less than $1 billion,” said Eng Musasa.

He said the concept involves planting turbines in water under the Victoria Falls Bridge, which will automatically start generating electricity to be used in powering the pipeline.

“There won’t be need for damming to produce electricity as power will be generated to a pump house. All we are doing is come up with an alternative to exploit the Zambezi Basin to develop the country and Africa,” said Eng Musasa.

Source: Engineer proposes alternative Zambezi water project design (9/3/17)

More: Slow pace of work on Zambezi water project a cause for concern (17/10/15)

Thursday 9 March 2017

Vic Falls hotel occupancy up 8 percent

VICTORIA FALLS’s hospitality industry is set for improved fortunes after recording an eight percent increase in hotel occupancy during the first two months of 2017.

Ross Kennedy, chief executive officer of one of Zimbabwe’s largest leisure groups Africa Albida Tourism, said the year looks promising for the hotel industry considering that last year hotel room occupancy failed to reach 50 percent mark.

“Last year the town’s accommodation occupancy didn’t reach 50 percent but to date, at the end of February 2017, we have seen 8 percent growth in occupancy over the same period, which is a healthy start and sets a good benchmark for the year ahead,” said Kennedy.

He said there is a total of 1, 125 hotel rooms in Victoria Falls which are measured every night, comprising 11 properties ranging from 6 rooms to 290 rooms each.

“In 2016 these properties between them averaged 48.6 percent occupancy, with some doing very well and some much less,” said Kennedy.

“There are an estimated further 600 rooms in the destination between camps, bed and breakfast, self catering, private lodges and other accommodation options. We have no tracking on those but one can draw a fair assumption that they likely track the same trend.”

Kennedy said more hotel rooms are needed to match growing aviation trends where an additional 80,000 tourists are expected to come into the resort town annually, brought by three of Africa’s largest airlines which now fly to Victoria Falls.

“This tells the story that the destination has clear capacity for growth and thus the increased airlift into Victoria Falls Airport in 2017 is not only very welcome but also important for tourism growth.”

This comes after South African Airways launched an Airbus A330-200 flight into Victoria Falls last week, while Ethiopian Airlines and Kenyan Airways have announced interest to introduce direct flights into the resort town.

Last year, Zimbabwe commissioned the Victoria Falls international airport after a $150 million revamp funded by China, to expand its capacity to handle additional traffic and bigger aircraft.

“There is capacity in the industry, let’s all use our networks around the world to ensure people know about the destination and we should ensure as that we invest in more rooms,’ added Kennedy.

Source: Vic Falls hotel occupancy up 8 percent (08/03/17)

Saturday 4 March 2017

New Vic Falls flights to boost tourism arrivals by 80,000

The move by three of Africa's largest airlines to fly to Victoria Falls will bring an additional 80,000 tourists into the resort town annually, according to one of Zimbabwe’s largest leisure groups.
Ross Kennedy, chief executive officer of Africa Albida Tourism, said the launch of Airbus A330-200 flights into Victoria Falls on Wednesday by South African Airways (SAA), coupled with the already announced  moves by Ethiopian Airlines and Kenyan Airways to introduce direct flights into the resort town would reignite the growth of the industry.
Zimbabwe relies heavily on tourism, agriculture, mining and manufacturing for the growth of its economy.
Ethiopian Airlines, will begin four flights weekly from Addis Ababa to Victoria Falls, using the latest Boeing 737, on March 26, and Kenya Airways will begin direct flights three times a week from Nairobi to Victoria Falls on May 18.
“(About) 80,000 more tourists a year could soon fly into Zimbabwe’s leading resort town of Victoria Falls as two large international airlines commit to the destination and a third increases capacity,” said Kennedy in a statement.
Kennedy, is also African Travel and Tourism Association chairman.
The A330-200 has 222 seats, 88 more than the smaller aircraft it has replaced, and, according to the Civil Aviation Authority of Zimbabwe, inbound flights are, so far, heavily booked till March 12, and demand is growing daily.
The Ethiopian Airlines flight route will be Addis Ababa – Victoria Falls – Gaborone – Addis Ababa, while Kenya Airways will fly Nairobi – Victoria Falls – Cape Town – Victoria Falls – Nairobi.
Victoria Falls is in the middle of southern Africa’s Kavango Zambezi Transfrontier Conservation Area (KAZA), which boasts some of the most pristine and diverse wildlife areas left on the planet.
Africa Albida operates a portfolio of properties in Victoria Falls, including Victoria Falls Safari Lodge, Victoria Falls Safari Club, Victoria Falls Safari Suites, Lokuthula Lodges, and Ngoma Safari Lodge in Chobe, Botswana.

Friday 3 March 2017

Tourists harassed by police road-blocks

A REPORT by the Zimbabwe National Statistics Agency (ZIMSTAT) has brought to the fore the impact of roadblocks on the country, with tourists alleging harassment by police at roadblocks and persecution by customs officers at points of entry. Titled Visitor Exit Survey, ZIMSTAT was commissioned to undertake the survey by the Ministry of Tourism and Hospitality.

It revealed that although the majority of the foreign tourists polled between 2015 and 2016 were generally happy to return or recommend the country, some had no kind words for Zimbabwe on account of the ill-treatment they got. Of the 38 680 foreign tourists polled, 95 percent of them gave Zimbabwe the thumbs up. But five percent of them were not happy with their stay.

Of the five percent, 43,2 percent said they had been harassed by the police at roadblocks, while 14,7 percent were harassed by customs officers at the 10 border posts included in the survey. It said 8,7 percent reported that they would not return to a country where immigration officials were rough.
While five percent appears to be a small number, tourism experts said their concerns would still have serious implications on traffic into the country. Zimbabwe ranks tourism among the major drivers of the economy along with manufacturing, agriculture and mining.

It is the first time government has commissioned a survey to gather tourist perceptions on Zimbabwe since roadblocks were intensified on major highways in 2009. Hotels and other tourism operators have been complaining bitterly over the heavy presence of police on the country's roads.

During the review period, 80 percent of arrivals into Zimbabwe were African tourists who preferred to drive and had to endure multiple roadblocks on their way to visit key attractions. Excessive policing on the roads has forced some tourists arriving by road to avoid Zimbabwean resorts.

For instance, some now prefer to drive into Botswana's Chobe National Park and Zambia, translating into substantial loss of revenue. "In order to retain reputation of Zimbabwe being a hospitable nation there is need to ensure continuous training of frontline personnel who interact with visitors creating the first and last impressions on the destination such as immigration, customs and police," ZIMSTAT said in the report.

There has been a dramatic decline in tourist arrivals in most resorts such as Binga, once a prime tourist destination, mostly due to the roadblocks. Tourism operators said government must deal with the problem now to avoid losing tourist traffic. "We don't have to beat about the bush in terms of the damage that is done by road blocks to the product," said Zimbabwe Council of Tourism chief executive officer, Paul Matamisa.

"If you are going to Bulawayo and there are 20 roadblocks you spend time stopping on 20 roadblocks. In other countries you do not see so many roadblocks on roads to tourist resorts," he said.
Zimbabwe Tourism Authority acting chief executive officer, Givemore Chidzidzi, also called upon concerned State agencies to review their conduct when dealing with tourists.

Source: Zimbabwe: Tourists Harassed (02/03/17)