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Friday 22 June 2018

Luxury lodge in Victoria Falls expands offering

Ilala Lodge in Victoria Falls is expanding its offering with a new deluxe extension.

Michele Brown, Head of Marketing, said the recently-opened new deluxe extension has seen 16 deluxe rooms and one executive suite being added to the lodge. “There are now 73 rooms in total after the extension: three executive suites, 36 deluxe rooms, two standard suites and 32 standard rooms,” says Brown. Ilala lodge previously had 56 rooms.

Facilities at the lodge include The Palm Restaurant – currently rated number one in the area by TripAdvisor, one of the world's largest travel websites; an outdoor swimming pool, pool bar, boardroom and spa.

Activities such as the Ra-Ikane river cruise are on offer. Bookings for all other activities can be arranged at the Activities Desk at the lodge.

The lodge is located a stone’s throw away from the Victoria Falls, along the main road to the Livingstone Border Post, overlooking Victoria Falls, and opening out onto the Victoria Falls National Park. It is ideally located and very easy for guests to access all the historical sites, restaurants and activities available in the area.

Source: Luxury lodge in Victoria Falls expands offering (21/06/18)

Tuesday 12 June 2018

Residents up in arms as broke hotels take over Vic Falls rainforest for vending

Stung by limited business compounded by low arrivals and uptake of activities and services by tourists, tour operators doing business in Victoria Falls have resorted to desperate measures of informal vending in curios to maximise income.
The big companies and hotels now operate curio shops in their offices and ‘illegal’ vending stalls in the Rainforest as they target tourists, who now mostly prefer neighbouring Botswana and Zambia.
Those who cross into Victoria Falls mostly do one day trips and return to Kasane or Livingstone where they prefer to be booked due to cheaper rates.
As a result, business is low for local operators hence they have diversified into informal trade.
This has, however, courted the ire of residents who have accused operators of monopolising business by venturing into small scale vending which should be done by unemployed people.
Speaking at a recent public meeting organised by the Victoria Falls Consortium, which was meant to provide a platform for discussion with aspiring candidates from different political parties, residents complained that tour operators were now running vending shops.
They said by venturing into informal work, the big companies were disadvantaging residents who over the years have survived on selling curios and other artefacts to tourists to eke a living after losing their jobs.
“If you go into the Rainforest, companies have set some vending stalls and selling curios everywhere. We wonder who allowed them and allocated them that land to sell from there when us we are not allowed to do so,” said a resident.
Another resident said: “We used to know the Rainforest as a clean natural area that would attract tourists but what would happen to it now that it’s being commercialised and everyone is selling inside. Some companies and some politicians are now vending inside. We know those who have shops inside the Rainforest and we want leaders who can help us correct this.”
The Residents said they were not happy that the Rainforest was not benefitting locals, as they accused current Victoria Falls councillors of corruptly allowing companies to operate vending stalls around town.
They said some companies had even employed some agents who sell curios and services to tourists on the streets hence visitors were no longer visiting designated vending areas such as Sinathankawu, Busy Island, Landela Complex and others.
The residents implored those aspiring to be Members of Parliament for Hwange West Constituency and councillors in Victoria Falls to move a motion in Parliament for the resort town to be allowed to retain at least 10 percent of gate takings into the facility.
This is not the first time Victoria Falls residents have expressed concern over the Rainforest.
A few months ago residents petitioned Parliament demanding to be allowed free entry into the Rainforest.
They said their children were being disadvantaged and failing in school yet the Rainforest is closer to them because they can’t afford to pay entry fees.
It costs $7 for locals to enter the Rainforest and $20 for those from the Sadc region.
Tourism and Hospitality Industry Minister Prisca Mupfumira recently threw her weight behind locals saying they should be charged nominal fees as a way of promoting Domestic tourism.

Saturday 2 June 2018

Zimbabwe: Huge Boost for Vic Falls As UAE Investors to Build World Class Hospital, Motor Racing Course, Shopping Mall and a Hotel

The Zimbabwe Tourism Authority (ZTA) says Victoria Falls will soon become the best world destination following a visit by investors from United Arab Emirates (UAE) who have expressed interest in developing state-of-the-art medical, grand prix, hotel and shopping mall facilities.
A technical team from UAE was in the resort town on Tuesday where it held a meeting with ZTA officials and Victoria Falls Municipality to assess the state of affairs in the country's prime destination.
Coming out of the closed door meeting, ZTA chief executive, Karikoga Kaseke, said the delegation was happy with what it had seen and was ready to pour in a huge investment.
"We met them when we went to Dubai with the Minister (Tourism and Hospitality Industry Prisca Mupfumira) and they expressed interest in investing in a tourist destination. Their choice was Victoria Falls which is why they are here," said Kaseke.
He said the investment, whose amount is still under wraps, would be towards developing a state of the-art-hospital to be used as a world referral centre, a motor racing course, a shopping mall and hotel.
Kaseke said as ZTA they were buoyed by interest shown by investors from different countries who want to invest in Zimbabwe especially in tourism destination centres.
Victoria Falls was designated as a special economic zone (SEZ) focusing on tourism and financial services.
However, the destination still lags behind in terms of world class facilities that can be of choice to tourists.
Some tourists prefer to land and book in Zambia or Botswana and cross into the country by road before going back because of lack of five star hotels, with the few available deemed too expensive for their standard.
The resort town has a room deficit of about 2 000.
Concerns have been raised about unavailability of sporting and recreational facilities which could boost sport tourism.
On a number of occasions, some tourists have been airlifted to Johannesburg or Bulawayo after being involved in accidents because there are no properly equipped medical facilities.
Source: Zimbabwe: Huge Boost for Vic Falls As UAE Investors to Build World Class Hospital, Motor Racing Course, Shopping Mall and a Hotel (01/06/18)

Vic Falls: Black market fuel hub

ARRESTS and prosecutions are not enough deterrent factors for illegal fuel dealers and the law has somehow failed to curb the vice.
It is a risky and fast business for Victoria Falls’ Mbongeni Dube (29) and his peers who call it a “permanent” job and are ready to die for it.
The residents too, have a huge appetite for the market mainly the taxi drivers as they claim that the precious liquid smuggled through our porous borders is purer than the local one.
Some of the smuggled fuel is sold on the streets, bush and houses in the high-density suburbs of Victoria Falls, while some finds its way to Hwange, 100km away.
“It is a risky trade; people have lost lives and property after smuggled fuel went up in smoke, but what can we do when they are no jobs,” Dube quizzed.
“It’s survival of the fittest and we are always ready for anything and day in, day out, law enforcement is after us, but we find a way to get away,” said Dube who plies his trade in the cover of the bush along Kazungula road.
“We are many of us and we give ourselves a target of about 3 500 litres minimum per week and it is paying off. We buy our fuel in Kazungula [Zambia] or Kasane [Botswana] and we find a way of smuggling it into the country through ungazzeted points in small gallons. It is not easy though, but one has to find means to survive,” another fuel dealer added.
“Upon arrival, we sell it in gallons, for example five litres goes for $7,50 cash and $10 when fuel stations are dry. We prefer Botswana fuel over Zambia because it is cheap. A litre goes for less than 80 pula while local fuel stations, like Zuva, sell a litre for $1,47 and Petrotrade for $1,42, so we make a lot of profit and we now have our regular clients,” Clive Chitsa explained.
A survey revealed that many local taxi drivers prefer black market fuel which they top up on credit and claim it does not damage their cars.
However some said they no longer trust, the dealers as they also sold ethanol-blended fuel.
“They only want cash and buying from a garage ends up better and we have realised that these people top up at service stations then lie to us that the liquid is pure. So it is a win-lose situation, but they always come in handy when there are fuel shortages in town like last week,” Macloud said.
According to the Zimbabwe Revenue Authority, smuggled fuel costs the country over $1 billion in undeclared levies.
In 2017, Zimbabwe and the Botswana Defence Forces officials launched a joint operation to curb the smuggling of fuel from the neighbouring country, but unregistered fuel dealers still evade arrest.
Fuel supplies have been dwindling in the country, with government officials blaming foreign currency shortages.
Source:  Vic Falls: Black market fuel hub (01/06/18)