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Saturday 31 March 2018

Drunk tourist loses arm in Victoria Falls captive-crocodile attack

(31st March 2018)

A tourist from Zambia is fortunate to be alive following a crocodile attack Thursday evening in Victoria Falls after he had jumped into the crocodile pool.

The 21 year old Collin Miller who is suspected to have been under the influence of alcohol decided to be adventurous and took off his shirt before diving into a crocodile pool to swim.

The tourist lost his arm following the attack.

Zimbabwe Parks and Wildlife Management Authority (Zimparks) public relations manager described the incident as unfortunate and urged all local and foreign tourists to always avoid taking unnecessary risks when dealing with animals.

Miller is said to have been in the country with the other family members for a wedding ceremony.

Reports indicate that the 21 year-old is now in a stable condition at an undisclosed South African health institution where he was flown to yesterday morning.

Source: Drunk tourist survives Victoria Falls crocodile attack (31/03/18)
See also: Man Reportedly Loses Arm While Swimming In Crocodile Pool In Victoria Falls (01/04/18)
Drunken tourist, 21, had his arm ripped off by three crocodiles who attacked him when he jumped into a pool on a night out - but miraculously escaped with his life, Daily Mail (04/04/18)

More information: A captive crocodile diving tourism interaction activity has been operating in Victoria Falls for several years under the name Crocodile Cage Diving Victoria Falls - see their website or facebook page for more information. The small man-made pool is located next to the Elephant's Walk Artists Village and home to three large female Nile Crocodiles, native to the local Zambezi River. The pool is protected by a high fence, but the recent opening of a backpackers nearby has perhaps increased late-night tourist activity in this part of town. The activity is sold and promoted by all the main tourism agents and operators in the Falls, along with other captive-animal interactions involving elephant rides and lion walks. The company website promotes their crocodile interactions on their website as an educational experience. "Crocodile Cage Diving attempts to address human-wildlife conflict in Victoria Falls by promoting biodiversity and appreciation of our natural heritage. Getting to interact with a Nile Crocodile is an educational experience. We aim to demystify the negative perceptions that many have about crocodiles and teach patrons about their vital role in the wild."

Images from the Crocodile Cage Diving Victoria Falls Facebook page.

Friday 30 March 2018

Vic Falls threaten to take action against Legacy Hotels

VICTORIA Falls councillors have threatened to take action against two leading Legacy Hotels in Victoria Falls who owe the municipality nearly $200 000 in unpaid water and rates.

Speaking at a full council meeting on Monday, councillors said the municipality was being lenient on corporate entities that fail to service their debts yet ordinary ratepayers were being penalised for not paying.

Ward 8 Councillor Robson Salimi who was leading discussions on payment of water and rates, implored his counterparts to appeal to residents to pay their water bills and rates to avoid litigation.
“Fellow councillors, may we encourage residents to pay what they owe to council. Some paid for servicing of the refuse truck and there are some who are not paying at all. We don’t want to end up taking the litigation route,” he highlighted.

Ward 9 Clr Somveli Dlamini interjected.

“What is the situation with businesses? We are being lenient to them, we can’t be seen taking ordinary poor residents to court when there are big entities who aren’t paying. Let’s be seen first pressuring these businesses to honour their obligations,” he said.

The Cllrs demanded to know how much Elephant Hills and Kingdom Hotel owe the municipality as the two entities were not paying their dues.

Town Treasurer Mr Neville Ndlovu said Elephant Hills and Kingdom Hotel owe council close to $200 000. Mayor Cllr Sifiso Mpofu implored management to come up with strategies of dealing with the issue and other businesses that were not paying rates and other service charges.

This is not the first time Victoria Falls municipality and the same hotels have clashed over non-payment of bills and rates.
Three years ago, the municipality dragged The Kingdom Hotel, The Victoria Falls Hotel and Elephant Hills Hotel to court for failing to pay more than $380 000 in rates and water charges accrued over an unspecified period. Then Elephant Hills owed $166.457.51, The Victoria Falls Hotel ($125.676.32) while The Kingdom Hotel had a cumulative debt of $91.762.63.

The hotels had allegedly stopped paying following what they termed an unscrupulous hike in rates by the council at a time when hotel occupancy was low.

The issue was later settled when Legacy Hotel paid more than $200 000 to clear the debt.
Things almost went off hand when the Zimbabwe Tourism Authority (ZTA) ordered the municipality to reverse rates after tourism operators in the resort town complained that they were too high.

The Victoria Falls business community that is dominated by tour operators, hotels and lodges, had threatened to withdraw various charity work and developmental projects in the resort town after council hiked rates by more than 500 percent.

The local authority however argued that it acted within the confines of the law.

Source: Vic Falls threaten to take action against Legacy Hotels (29/03/18)

Wednesday 28 March 2018

Vic Falls resumes solar street lighting project

VICTORIA FALLS Municipality has resolved to resume its solar street-lighting project in May, following the promulgation of the Public Procurement and Disposal of Public Assets Act.

Town clerk, Ronnie Dube said 100 solar street lights will be installed at a cost of $250 000.
“We are guided by the new public regulation [Public Procurement and Disposal of Public Assets Act], which strictly suspended all the 2017 projects with effect from January 1, but we will resume in May or June. Our residents need to be patient. Our main priority areas are high-density suburbs, that is, Chinotimba and Mkhosana together with the central business district,” he said.
“Residents must understand that the solar street lights being put at CBZ stands belong to CBZ development project. We still have their street lights and theirs too will be installed soon, they must not think that we used their money to put those lights.
“In the near future, we want to go green completely as a town and we believe that will be a success along as people pay their bills and it will help us reduce tariffs charges.”
Another project, which had been put on hold, was the installation of pre-paid water meters.
Dube said residents owed council over $9 million, hence the decision to install pre-paid meters.
“It is an expensive project, but we have to do it because it is an inevitable technology that is there and it is going to assist us in our debt collection strategy and avoid ballooning debts, which is sitting at over $9 million,” he said. “Pre-paid meters will also help us to calculate and dictate non-revenue water leakage and be able to attend to it effectively,” he said.

Thursday 22 March 2018

Tourism geared to turn around Zimbabwe economy

Zimbabwe's tourism industry should soon turn around the economy through increased tourism activity at the country's tourism resort areas.

Zimbabwe's tourism industry activities aimed at turning around the economy have been necessitated by the humanitarian military intervention that unfolded from 14 November 2017 unveiling a new era in Zimbabwe. 

The military intervention in the country ushered in a new Government which ensured that Zimbabwe became open for Business. The new Government of Zimbabwe has since committed itself to honour its obligations in relation to business be it in the travel, trade and any related sector. 

During the preceding years, Zimbabwe had lagged behind in many areas as a result of the global isolation for the past 18 years due to the errors of the past.  The isolation left Zimbabwe's once-rich tourism sector in a sorry state. 

As a way of regaining its status, the tourism industry should regain and improve its 30% market share which the tourism industry used to receive from the overseas market in the 90s when tourism was at its peak. Currently this contribution has since dropped to less than 15% of the international arrivals into Zimbabwe mainly because of the negative image the former president Mr. R. Mugabe used to send abroad. 

Hitting the ground running during the first 100-days target, Government has committed itself to reversing the legislation constraining incoming business and easing the way of doing business. To promote investment from abroad in the tourism industry, risks that have been inhibiting investment to Zimbabwe such as the dense and inefficient bureaucracies, corruption particularly in the policing industry and infrastructural disinvestments shall be curbed by Government. 

Major barriers affecting the growth of tourism in Zimbabwe are being removed, one of them being the numerous roadblocks that had become a menace to foreign tourist and local traffic. Tourists should be left to enjoy their drive around the country as they used to do in the past. 

Government has also prioritised road maintenance of major roads most of which are receiving urgent attention. Government has also committed itself to address hindrances that inhibit travel within Zimbabwe to ensure tourists travel from the point of entry and exit conveniently. Some of the convenience being incorporated includes the ease of facilitation at the border posts and the liberalization of the visa regime. 

To date, Government has reviewed the visa regime with 29 countries upgraded from Category C to Category B which facilitates tourists to attain visas at the port of entry.

Government through these efforts has shown its readiness to welcome travellers to Zimbabwe and to promote the growth of the tourism industry.

Players in the tourism industry should utilise the numerous resources in the country that have the potential to become tourism attractions for the benefit of the nation through value addition and wealth creation. 

The country has well known tourism attractions which include Victoria Falls, one of the Seven Wonders in the World. Zimbabwe has also been endowed with heritage sites and vast national parks which provide a relaxing experience to tourists. 

Minister of Tourism and Hospitality Industry Prisca Mupfumira has since been promoting the tourism industry abroad since she became the Minister. She has on record said Zimbabwe has been of late presenting varied opportunities in various sectors such as mining, agriculture, health, aviation, manufacturing, water and most importantly in the tourism industry. Opportunities have been unlocked in the Special Economic Zones and Trans-frontier Conservation Areas which will see the development of hotel and catering industry, safari and tour operations, gaming and construction of international conventions among other developments. 

To support the sustenance of the tourism industry, Government has also committed itself to offering tourism investment incentives such as duty exemptions and rebates on capital goods for tourism development zones as well as the provision of the tourism fund. 

With this in mind tourists should consider Zimbabwe as their next destination for investment and tourism business. They are welcome in Zimbabwe which remains also a peaceful nation. Tourists should be part of the transition to reposition Zimbabwe to its yesteryear glory. Zimbabwe has always been the favourable destination to visit, the tourist's destination of choice and also the favourable investment economy for investors.

Source: Tourism geared to turn around Zimbabwe economy (21/03/18)

Wednesday 21 March 2018

IDBZ on Vic Falls water and sanitation

Victoria Falls requires at least $15,7 million for expansion and rehabilitation of water and sanitation infrastructure to support more than 5 000 properties in the resort town.

According to a budget proposal by Infrastructure Development Bank of Zimbabwe (IDBZ), which advises Government on major infrastructure projects, Victoria Falls, being Zimbabwe’s tourism prime destination requires massive investment to upgrade its water and sanitation facilities

Victoria Falls had a population of 33 600 and received an average of 50 000 tourist per annum according to the 2012 national census. Tourists arrivals have since increased significantly following the upgrading of the Victoria Falls airport which has resulted in massive increase in flights to the resort town.

“Victoria Falls like many urban centres in Zimbabwe has been affected by many years of under investment in maintenance of its sewerage and water infrastructure.

“Overloading of the existing system is evident from marked increase in sewer blockages and deterioration of quality of treated sewage effluent which is now polluting local water courses,” said IDBZ.

The budget also proposes increased spending for the sewer connection and infrastructure while the installation prepaid water meters is prioritised.

“The main project outcomes are improved household access to municipal water supply, reduced environmental pollution from raw sewage, and improved utility water revenue collection efficiency,” part of the proposal reads.

At the moment feasibility studies have been done.

Last month, Victoria Falls Municipality introduced a tight water rationing regime in the tourist resort town, following shortages of water treatment chemicals.

According to the town fathers, their regular supplier of water treatment chemicals had cut supplies, citing foreign currency shortages.

Ironically, residents have been running for weeks without tap water despite living on shores of the Zambezi River.

Some places have also gone for years without adequate running water and a sewer reticulation system.

Source: IDBZ on Vic Falls water and sanitation (20/03/18)

Tuesday 20 March 2018

Mosquitoes, roaches wreak havoc at Vic Falls Hospital

MOSQUITOES and cockroaches have become an everyday menace for patients and nurses at Victoria Falls Hospital.

Several patients interviewed by Southern Eye said they were having sleepless nights because of the mosquito and cockroaches menace. Mothers said they had woken to see mosquito bites covering their babies’ faces and hands.
“The buzzing sound of mosquitoes keeps me awake. I normally cover myself with blankets to protect myself. It is too hot and they breed a lot,” one mother said.
“My baby’s ears and hands have red marks,” said another mother who refused to be named.
A just-discharged patient also complained about lack of mosquito repellents or mosquito nets at hospitals.
“Three days ago, I struggled to sleep at night in this referral hospital. How can I get well from malaria when mosquitoes bite me because of lack of hospital nets in the room? This is a pure paradox that there is no mosquito bed nets to support the sick in this clinic and cockroaches run up and down even in the toilets at night.”
Another parent, whose child was admitted, also complained about the lack of mosquito nets at the institution.
“Before we took her to Mpilo (Central Hospital) in Bulawayo, she had reacted badly and she had bites all over body. She kept scratching and I feared that she might suffer from malaria. Government needs to intervene. There is no medication, some windows are broken and the mosquitos are terrorising sick patients who can’t defend themselves,” Ndaba Ncube said.
Although he acknowledges the presence of mosquitoes at the hospital, district health practitioner Wisdom Kurauone suggested there was no serious problem at the hospital and said he did not believe that mosquito nets were necessary as it was the season for them to breed.
“There is nothing that we can do. Hwange district is known for its high temperatures and mosquitos and cockroaches breed during that time a lot. They [mosquitoes and coackroaches] are not only breeding in hospital, but their houses too,”
“They are just causing a nuisance and they cannot cause malaria . . . they won’t infect anyone with malaria.”
Source: Mosquitoes, roaches wreak havoc at Vic Falls Hospital (19/03/18)

Friday 16 March 2018

Victoria Falls Launches A Major Recycling Project

Victoria Falls is going greener with the launch of its very own recycling project, which is expected to have a major impact in protecting the environment around one of the Seven Natural Wonders of the World.
Victoria Falls town is growing rapidly, and it is crucial that as much waste as possible is recycled and composted, thus reducing the amount of litter on the streets and the volume of waste going to the dumpsite.
Victoria Falls Recycling (VFR), an initiative sponsored by leading Zimbabwean hospitality group Africa Albida Tourism (AAT), and co-ordinated by well- known local environmental conservationist Charlene Hewat, launched this week.
Ms Hewat said the initiative, which is supported by Greenline Africa Trust, Petreco Zim and Victoria Falls Municipality, had begun operations, initially, recycling paper and plastics from eight hotels.
Paper and thin plastics will be sent to Harare where they will be recycled to make plastic bags and piping, while thicker plastics, such as water bottles, will be sent to a recycling plant in South Africa, Ms Hewat said.
Within a year the project is expected to expand to include the recycling of glass and beverage cans, as well as taking recyclable goods from the wider Victoria Falls community, Ms Hewat said.
As the project develops, it will also include tourism operators in surrounding areas, such as Hwange National Park, who are keen to participate.
There are no other recycling plants in the resort town, and this initiative is expected to have a major impact, she said.
“Around 80 per cent of waste is recyclable or compostable, so should not be going to the dumpsite at all. If we can reduce the amount of waste going to the dumpsite, and do it in a manner that creates jobs, and, also improves the environment, I believe recycling is the key,” Ms Hewat said.
The operation has been set up as a community-based project with locals trained to operate the machines, sort waste, bale, load and manage the project – with the aim of creating a fully sustainable recycling program in Victoria Falls.
VFR is operating from an AAT-owned site in the industrial area of the resort town, but as the project develops it will relocate to a larger recycling area which has been designated by the Victoria Falls Municipality.
Ms Hewat, an experienced conservationist, has been contracted by AAT as a consultant to the group’s expanding corporate social responsibility program, with VFR being the first major project to launch under her watch.
AAT chief executive Ross Kennedy said the group was thrilled to have a conservationist of Charlene’s calibre on board to guide AAT in its corporate social responsibility program.
“The recycling project is a great initiative, which will have a hugely positive impact on the Victoria Falls community, and as tackling environmental and conservation challenges has always been a priority for us, we look forward to working on more ventures together,” Mr Kennedy said.
AAT 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.

Wednesday 14 March 2018

"We’ll transform Victoria Falls into Africa’s Las Vegas"

Zimbabwe’s MDC Alliance leader Nelson Chamisa has revealed ambitious plans to transform Victoria Falls into the Las Vegas of Africa.
Mr Chamisa added that the opposition alliance would establish a tourism and fisheries university to cater for the Zambezi Valley region once elected into office.
Speaking at a campaign rally in Victoria Falls last Friday, Mr. Chamisa said Zanu PF even under President Mnangagwa’s reign had failed to restore confidence in the economy.
“Victoria Falls must be like Las Vegas where if you turn to the left you see a Chinese, if you turn to the right you see a British and so on,” he said.
“This can only happen when we have vision to develop Victoria Falls as a city. We have a plan for the Zambezi Valley; we want a tourism and fisheries university.
“Our gospel is transformation, prosperity and opportunity and none of our people will leave the country to look for jobs as they will be available locally.”
Mr. Chamisa said his party was working on a number of programmes which will be launched soon, among them replacement of the bond notes with a real currency as well as well establishing a disability grant to cater for the disabled.
“Zanu PF should restore confidence and trust. Us, we don’t need 100 days; once we get into government the first thing to do will be to address the cash crisis. We will stop the bond notes and bring real money,” he said.
The opposition politician addressed dozens of party supporters at Chinotimba Hall in the company of PDP leader and former finance Minister Tendai Biti.
Mr. Chamisa said he has a vision for building state-of-the-art road and rail infrastructure across the country as he lamented lack of development in Matabeleland region which he blamed on exploitation by Zanu PF.

Heavy rains wash away Vic Falls copter operators’ earnings

PLAYERS in the helicopter sector in Victoria Falls lost business worth over $500 000 in February due to heavy rains, leading to cancellation of flights.

“From the beginning of February 2018, Victoria Falls was very wet because of excessive rains. The clouds were low hanging. As such, operations of helicopters from the Zambian and Zimbabwean side were suspended,” Employers’ Association for Tourism and Safari Operators president and Shearwater Adventures spokesperson, Clement Mukwasi, said.
“As a destination, we lost quite a lot of business, as we had a lot of refunds due to cancellations of flights. Losses were quite heavy because we had put up infrastructure and manpower on standby in anticipation of good business. Due to cancellations and other expenses, we lost half a million dollars as industry. We are happy now that the flights have resumed their operations.”
There are three major helicopter players in Victoria Falls—Zambezi Helicopter Company, Chikopokopo and BonisAir.
Chikopokopo managing director, Lloyd Machaka, said their company also lost business due to cancellations.
BonisAir sales and marketing manager, Lovemore Ngano, partly blamed the Meteorological Services Department of Zimbabwe for other flights cancellations.
“The challenge that we are having is that our Meteorological Department is situated about 20 kilometres away from where we are operating. So what happens is that, when clouds become very low at where they are operating from (at the airport) while at our side its clear, then we are told not to fly,” she said.
“Even when you try to tell them that: ‘No guys, its clear this side’. They will tell you don’t fly. We lost about 370 clients, which is equivalent to $38 000. On the first day yes, the rain was almost 100% cover, but on other days it was not so.”
He requested Met Department to establish their offices around town for the convenience of aviation industry.

Vic Falls ‘serial robber’ arrested in Zambia hide-out

A SUSPECTED serial criminal who allegedly terrorised Victoria Falls residents and tourists for four years, breaking into houses and hotels, has been arrested at his hide-out in Zambia.

Since 2014, Bongani Moyo (38), a Zimbabwean who was staying illegally in Livingstone, at number D37 Lubuyu Compound had been allegedly crossing into Victoria Falls illegally and he would break into cars, houses and hotels. He allegedly stole cash, electrical gadgets such as TV sets, laptops, digital cameras and their accessories, cellphone handsets, clothes and other valuables running into thousands of dollars.

The court heard that Moyo also used violence and threatened to kill the victims. The total value of stolen property was not given but according to state documents, there are 27 different types of cellphone handsets, six cameras, four laptops and a bicycle among other valuables.

Moyo is facing a combined 34 counts, unlawful entry, theft, criminal trespass, robbery as well as entering and exiting Zimbabwe through an ungazetted point.

Victoria Falls magistrate, Ms Rangarirai Gakanje, remanded Moyo who was not asked to plead, in custody to next week on Wednesday. The magistrate ordered an investigation into claims by Moyo that he was severely beaten by police whom he alleged forced him to admit to the charges.

The prosecutor, Mr Listen Nare, opposed bail saying Moyo is a flight risk and can commit more crimes since he has been convicted five times before by the same court.

“The State is opposed to bail based on the fact that the accused faces charges of exiting and entering the border illegally. He was arrested in Zambia and it is our submission that bail conditions cannot surface as he can escape jurisdiction and go to Zambia or any other neighbouring country,” said Mr Nare.

He said investigations were still underway to account for some of the property that was recovered by police in Zambia.

Mr Nare said the crimes were committed between September 2014 and last week. Moyo would use unknown objects to force open doors and windows into premises, the court was told.

In the first count, Moyo illegally crossed into Victoria Falls on September 7 in 2014 and broke into a house belonging to Mr Stanfordias Ndlovu in Aerodrome suburb.

He stole a laptop, a video camera, an HTC and a Blackberry cellphone handsets all valued at $1 200.
“On October 11, 2017, complainant Danieala Elazar (27) of Eric Magalson Apartment, Jerusalem, Israel, closed his door and windows on retiring to bed.

The accused force opened the door and entered the house. The accused threatened to kill the complainant and forcibly took $1 500 and clothing valued at $1 600,” said the prosecutor.
The court was told that Moyo broke into several hotels and lodges, and stole cash and valuables from clients’ rooms.

In May last year, Moyo allegedly broke into Breeze FM premises at 220 Kingsway and stole a Samsung tablet cellphone and an iPhone 5 both valued at $700 belonging to presenter Thanduxolo Ndlovu.

Some of the victims were tourists booked at various hotels while others were mostly hotel employees whom he knew had valuables and cash, the court was told.

Moyo was traced to his hide-out in Livingstone after breaking into Zambezi Horse Trails on February 28 where he threatened to kill the owner Ms Alison Baker (61) with a knife after forcibly opening doors to her bedroom using a sharp object.

Moyo was allegedly in the company of two accomplices who are still at large when they stole cash in different currencies, a pellet gun and some valuables worth about $3 000.

Source: Vic Falls ‘serial robber’ arrested in Zambia hide-out (13/03/18)

Monday 5 March 2018

Vic Falls safari operator robbed

A VICTORIA FALLS safari operator, Alison Baker, reportedly lost goods worth thousands of dollars to two suspected robbers who broke into her house last week, undressed and dragged her to nearby bushes, with her hands tied together before ransacking her house.

Baker owns Horseback Safari Tours in the resort town.
Officer Commanding Victoria Falls Police district, Chief Superintendent Jairos Chiwona, said no arrests had been made, although they were still investigating the matter.
Sources said the suspects went away with cash and electronic gadgets worth thousands of dollars.
“After dumping her in the bush, they went back to the house and stole a large amount of money in pounds, rands and United States dollars, a laptop, a Canon camera and a Samsung cellphone she was using. They then went back to the bush and took her to her house while still tied until she was discovered in the morning,” the police source said.
The tourism community in the resort town has offered a $2 000 cash reward for anyone with information leading to the arrest of the suspects.
Baker is currently receiving post-trauma counselling at a private hospital in Bulawayo.
In a related matter, two suspected robbers have been locked-up in remand prison for allegedly robbing a Mbalabala resident of $200, after attacking him at a bar before force marching him to his home, where they collected an additional $400.
The matter was heard by Esigodini resident magistrate, Tawanda Muchemwa, on Thursday last week when Mamba Sibanda (38) of Mbalabala Compound and Zibusiso Dube (35) of Swaith village Esigodini were brought to court.
They were not asked to plead to the robbery charge and were remanded in custody to March 8 for trial.
Prosecutor, Jefter Nyikadzinashe, told the court that on September 10 last year the complainant, Son Tshabalala (56) of Esigodini, was drinking beer at Mbalabala Night Club, when Sibanda and Dube pounced on him in the evening demanding money but he resisted them.
Dube allegedly grabbed Tshabalala while Sibanda assaulted him forcing him to surrender his wallet containing $200.

Sunday 4 March 2018

Vic Falls sees low flows due to climate change

World famous waterfall and Zimbabwe’s number one tourist attraction, the Victoria Falls, is starting to have far lower flows because of frequent droughts triggered by climate change, new research has shown.
Most of the changes have occurred in the months October and November, where rain has become scarcer, temperatures soared and waterflow diminished.
This could have far reaching impact on the tourism sector in Zimbabwe, and the economy as a whole.
According to the research, the Victoria Falls has been hit by drought in 19 of the 40 years since 1976.
Although precipitation is up 80mm over the four decades overall, it has declined sharply in the last 20 years.
During this period, droughts have sometimes extended for up to 4 years non-stop, it says.
October, which marks the beginning of the rainy season in Zimbabwe, has particularly been the driest.
Preciptation during the month has completely dried up.
In 1976, about 40mm of rain fell in October in Victoria Falls.
Today, none does at all.
“Rain now starts in November, and has not extended beyond April, the traditional rain-end month,” said Dr Godwell Nhamo, a Zimbabwean researcher with the University of South Africa, who co-authored the report.
“That means the rainy season has shortened by a month. The delay in the onset of the rainy season could have ramifications on animal habitat, animal migration patterns, and flora and fauna life cycles in the Victoria Falls resort,” said Dr Nhamo.
Climate change has been found to be the biggest cause of extreme climate events such as drought and floods, according to the UN expert panel on climate change.
Shorter peak period
Generally, waterflow at the Victoria Falls has increased since 1976, particularly for April and May, the authors say.
More years have exceeded the average annual 1 000 cubic metre per second water discharge in the past 40 years.
At its greatest, more than 8 700 cubic metres of water plunged down the gorges at the Victoria Falls each second.
That was in 1957.
Things have never been the same from since.
Researchers say the peak full-spray viewing period, historically between March and May, is becoming shorter.
“There is a chance that some months may witness a dried up (Victoria) Falls given that the rainfall has been reducing drastically, against increasing maximum and minimum temperatures,” said Dr Nhamo, in the study..
This will be bad news for visitors.
Holidaymakers love to see the Victoria Falls in its full glory and majesty: the mist, the rainbow and the thunder, studies show.
And that mostly happens when the waterflow is at full discharge.
“Evidence of prolonged low water flowing is worrying,” the research states.
“Measures need to be put in place to maintain and increase tourist flows during this period (September to January.”
Rising temperatures
Titled “Climate change and potential impact on tourism: Evidence from the Zimbabwean side of the Victoria Falls”, the case study-based research was done over two years utilising meteorological and hydrological data dating back 40 years.
About 370 tourists from across the world who have visited the Victoria Falls in the past were surveyed via the Internet, and through Facebook safari and tourism groups.
Researchers asked them questions such as their perceptions on climate change, the impact of climate change on the Victoria Falls and others.
“The online surveyed was preferred in triangulating evidence from the meteorological and hydrolgraphic data as it provided broader geographic reach to source global perceptions,” Dr Nhamo defended the study’s approach.
Whereas more research has previously been carried out on the the impact of climate change on the Zambezi River basin, from which the Victoria Falls emerge, few have looked at the waterfall proper.
Nhamo’s research may be the closest yet to a most comprehensive assessment of the impact of climate change on the Victoria Falls to date.
The study finds that since 1976 day-time temperatures in the Victoria Falls have risen 1,4 degrees Celsius, on average, due to climate change.
he greatest month-on-month increase was noticed in October, a rise of 3,8 degrees Celsius, which is faster than the national average.
Temperatures have warmed by under one degree celcious across Zimbabwe in the past 100 years.
“Such high temperatures (in Victoria Falls) may affect tourists’ comfort and flora and fauna that have to adapt to the ever increasing temperatures,” said Dr Nhamo.
Winters are becoming warmer, he said, forecasting a spike in demand for cooling systems both in the home and offices, in a vicious cycle that will in turn impact negatively on the waterfall.
“Since the energy supply is heavily dependent on burning coal, increased energy demand will also result in increased running costs for the tourism industry,” the study says.
“Increased energy demand will also result in increased carbon emissions leadingvto global warming that also affects the Victoria Falls.
Economic impact
Tourism accounts for over 5 percent of the country’s $16 billion GDP and about 100 000 people work in the sector, according to Government data.
Victoria Falls is Zimbabwe’s main tourist trumpcard. More than one million people flock to see the World Wonder each year.
Any disruption caused by climate change on water discharge at the waterfall will be most damaging to the tourism industry in particular, and the Zimbabwean economy in general.
Higher temperatures are already hitting some businesses in the Victoria Falls badly.
Two helicopter companies that fly tourists above the falls for a better view say warmer climates were disrupting business.
They say above 35 degrees Celsius temperatures impeded operational efficiency. They can not fly to the regulatory height anymore without consuming more fuel.
In future, it might cost more to fly in and out of the Victoria Falls, the study says.
That’s because higher temperatures have increased the risk of turbulence, flight sickness, greater aeroplane energy consumption and other issues.
Higher temperatures mean thinner air, requiring “flights to have longer runways and load shedding on takeoff…such trends could result in air tickets becoming higher as insurance premiums for airlines go higher to cater for increased risk”, the research says.
The Victoria Falls isn’t disappearing tomorrow. It may be another several millenia before that happens, if at all.
Nobody knows really. The next best time to visit the falls for a full spray may just be limited to April and May, according to a new calendar of activities developed by Dr Nhamo, even when other low flow adventures continue to flourish.

Saturday 3 March 2018

Govt set up Special Economic Zones in Victoria Falls

GOVERNMENT is in the process of setting up special economic zones (Sezs) in Victoria Falls with discussions with potential investors ongoing, businessdigest has learnt.
By Kudzai Kuwaza
Tourism minister Prisca Mupfumira said on Tuesday that her ministry is in the process of setting up the Victoria Falls Special Economic Zone.
Sezs are designated geographical regions that operate under special economic regulations different from other areas in the same country.
“We have started the process of getting the necessary legal requirements through the ministry of Local Government and the Victoria Falls Municipality,” Mupfumira said. “There are memorandum of understanding being done. We have also started the process of identifying possible investors. There has been such enthusiasm in as far as investing in Victoria Falls is concerned.”
Mupfumira said the major obstacle to getting investment in the resort town was the lack of a plan to help the process of investment.
She said that by March 15, the ministry will have a brochure to market the Victoria Falls special economic zone which she said will soon be launched. She said the Victoria Falls special economic zone will not be confined just to the resort town but to the whole area including Hwange and Mlibizi.
She said there are investors interested in building a marina in Mlibizi with properly developed beaches.
Mupfumira said she was in negotiations with various stakeholders in her sector to introduce special affordable packages for locals to visit tourist attractions and promote domestic tourism.
“One of the issues which has been a deterrent (to domestic tourism) has been the cost of entrance fees, the cost of hotels and the cost of accommodation. We have engaged our partners to see what we can do,” Mupfumira said. “As government we are seriously going to review entrance fees into all National Parks so that people living in those areas will go to enjoy the benefits of our God given resources.”
Mupfumira on Tuesday left the country with a delegation comprising of The Zimbabwe Tourism Authority and other tourism industry players on her second international re-engagement series tour across major tourism source markets; South Africa, United Kingdom and Germany.