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Sunday 30 September 2018

Two white rhinos killed in Mosi-o-Tunya Park

TWO white rhinos were last week killed in the Mosi-O-Tunya National Park in Livingstone.

The Department of National Parks and Wildlife suspects the killing of the two rhinos was an inside job, as the radio-tagged animals were well-protected and were under surveillance.

“We strongly suspect that this was an inside job involving one of our officers,” said Sakabilo Kalembwe, who is Ministry of Tourism and Arts spokesperson.

According to Mr Kalembwe, the rhinos, a male named Lewis and a female named Sepo, were gunned down on Sunday night by poachers who went away with a horn from one of the animals 

Source: Two white rhinos killed in Mosi-o-Tunya Park (30/09/18)

More: Chinese Poachers kill Rhinos in Livingstone park (26/06/18)

German tourist trampled by elephant, Victoria Falls

A tourist was yesterday left for dead by a raging elephant after he tried to film the dangerous animal behind a Victoria Falls hotel.
A vendor, Anele Mpofu, said he witnessed the shocking incident that left the tourist, believed to be from Germany, badly injured at around 6pm.
He said the victim was with a group of tourists that were walking from Look Out Café near Kingdom Hotel.
“I heard a loud trumpet and breaking of trees. l alerted other vendors and we rushed to the bush,” Mpofu said.
“We found an elephant bull trampling the tourist while threatening to charge at us.
“It was a case of life or death and l took a catapult and a stone that l always carry in my sling bag for protection and hit a female elephant that was standing close to the victim.
“I hit it hard on the ear and a herd of about 12 elephants with three calves moved away.”
Mpofu said the injured tourist’s wife pleaded with them to save her husband’s life but was struggling to communicate in English.
He said one of his legs was badly injured and he could hardly speak.
The vendors tried to carry the injured tourist as they sought help.
Nqabile Nkomazana, a vendor, said they found a camera and cone of ice cream at the scene.
Zimbabwe Parks and Wildlife Management Authority ( Zimparks) spokesperson Tinashe Farawo confirmed the incident .
He urged tourists to avoid drawing close to wildlife at resorts saying it was very dangerous.
“This is the breeding season for elephants and they are very dangerous,” Farawo said.
“Last week on Wednesday, another 49-year-old German woman was attacked and killed by an elephant at Mana Pools while taking photos. Elephants are very sensitive and tourists must exercise extreme caution.”

Thursday 27 September 2018

Construction of Grand Prix circuit in Vic Falls to go ahead

Harare - Construction of a multi-million dollar Grand Prix circuit in Victoria Falls will go ahead despite mafia organisations trying to derail the development, Zimbabwe Tourism Authority chief executive, Dr Karikoga Kaseke, has said.
Speaking on the sidelines of the recently ended 11th edition of Sanganai/Hlanganani World Travel and Tourism Africa Fair in Bulawayo, Dr Kaseke said the benefits of such a facility were far reaching in shaping the tourism economy of Zimbabwe.
“The grand prix circuit will be a first in Africa after the one built in South Africa was closed. So why can’t we be proud to be the first country in Africa to have such a facility?
“Are we not going to be proud as Zimbabweans when we see world companies there and the Grand Prix will bring a minimum number of international media averaging around 9000 while spectators will be plus or minus 20 000. I will not forgo that and it has never happened in Africa,” Dr Kaseke said.
Besides the Grand Prix stadium, Dr Kaseke said, there was going to be a shopping mall that houses all the international brands.
“There is going to be a seven star 300 bedroom hotel which we will sell as a product and a vast shopping mall that will house all the Gucci’s of this world and international brands would be there,” Dr Kaseke said.
He said the Dubai based investor insisted that the noise from Grand Prix stadium would be contained so as not to disturb the nature.
“We are talking of somebody with loads of money. He’s a prince by virtue of being born to a king and he insisted the noise would be contained,” he said.
This comes in the wake of social media reports that the Grand Prix will be constructed inside the natural habitat and possibly disturb the wildlife.
“There are people in the industry working against the construction of this facility-mafia-style, including some from South Africa, but I can assure you it is going ahead. It has been approved by the highest office and there is going to be a ground breaking soon,” he said.
Dr Kaseke was also pleased that there were exciting times ahead in Zimbabwean tourism, including other major developments in Kariba.
He said an American investor was interested in constructing an amusement park in Binga which would equal or surpass Sun City in South Africa.
Sanganai/Hlanganani Expo is a business to business exposition that presents networking opportunities between the buyers, exhibitors and the travel trade. To date, 288 exhibitors and 21 countries have registered for participation.

Wednesday 26 September 2018

Zimparks extends Vic Falls viewing time

The Zimbabwe Parks and Wildlife Management Authority (Zimparks), has extended cut off time to view the Victoria Falls from 7pm to 10pm and also introduced a coterie of activities as it moves to capitalise on the anticipated boom in tourism receipts.
The Victoria Falls also known as the Mosi-oa-Tunya is classified as one of the world’s seven natural wonders according the World Heritage Centre.
Victoria Falls is the country’s major tourist attraction accounting for the largest chunk for both the tourist receipts and arrivals.
The new dispensation led by President Mnangagwa has also targeted tourism as one of the major drivers upon which the country should build its economic revival after years of regression in the previous dispensation.
In response, Zimparks has come up with measures aimed at not only growing the arrivals, but also the elusive receipts that have been a worry for Government for some time.
“There are tourism products that we are now adding in Victoria Falls in an effort to generate more revenue,” Zimparks spokesperson Mr Tinashe Farawo told The Herald.
“We have already introduced bush dinners at the Livingstone statue, we are also increasing the time for night viewing at the majestic Victoria Falls. People can now view the falls up to 10pm from 7pm which was in place previously. 
“We are also introducing night driving in Zambezi National Park which is in Victoria Falls. We have also introduced a picnic site on the Zambezi River.
“We are looking at introducing a massage spar for beauty therapy and are in the process of acquiring beauty therapy equipment and also hiring cosmetologists so that we can increase value for money around the Victoria Falls so that our tourist can have more activities to partake in.
Tourist arrivals in Zimbabwe and in Victoria Falls in particular have been on the rise since November last year thanks to President Mnangagwa’s rise to power that has brought with it good will and investment opportunities.
Hospitality group Africa Albida Tourism (AAT) chief executive Ross Kennedy, said observations from the top 10 hotels in Victoria Falls show a 13 percent jump increase in hotel occupancy in the first quarter of the year compared to the same period last year.
The destination has also benefited from the refurbished Victoria Falls International Airport, which was renovated to the tune of $150 million.
The development has seen airlines that fly into the resort town among them Air Zimbabwe, British Airways, South African Airways, Kenyan Airways and SA Airlink and Air Namibia either increasing their frequency or resorting to much bigger planes than the ones they used before renovations.

Mnangagwa offers Trump Victoria Falls golf course

PRESIDENT Emmerson Mnangagwa yesterday disclosed that he dangled an offer of land in the picturesque Victoria Falls to United States President Donald Trump to build a golf course.

Mnangagwa, who is in the US for the United Nations General Assembly, revealed his offer to Trump at the Zimbabwe's Investors Forum held in New York yesterday.

Mnangagwa urged the American business community to support Zimbabwe's rebirth in areas such as agriculture, mining, infrastructural development, tourism, ICT among others.

Zimbabwe and the US have frosty relations dating back to the early 2000s where the later slapped the southern African nation with sanctions under Zimbabwe Democracy and Economic Recovery Act of 2001 (Zidera) for alleged human rights abuses under former President Robert Mugabe. Mugabe denies the alegations.

The US renewed the sanctions soon after the July 30 elections this year, saying that Zimbabwe had no 'culture of democracy.'

Mnangagwa said Zimbabwe wanted an new era of relations with the US and pursue economic co-operation between the two countries, adding that he had wanted to meet Trump at the Davos conference held in Switzerland in January.

"When I was in Davos I met staffers from the Trump administration," Mnangagwa said.

"I had hoped to meet President Trump but I had to leave before he arrived, but I told his people that if President Trump wishes, I will offer him ground in Victoria Falls in the national park.

"We have wildlife national park in Victoria Falls, but I had offered President Trump ground to build a state-of-the-art golf course so that as he plays, he can be able to see the big five," he said amid cheers from delegates.

The President said his government was keen for investments in the form of joint ventures or infrastructure based on the build operate and transfer (BOT) model.

"My government is reforming the public sector to eliminate bureaucratic red tape, bureaucratic bottlenecks and enhance efficiency and responsiveness. We are resolved to make Zimbabwe an attractive and a safe investment destination where capital feels safe. In addition, I have committed that my administration will ensure policy clarity, consistency, transparency and predictability."

The government is working on the ease of doing business, he added, and wants to reduce the approval process from around six months currently to a week or less. This will also reduce cases of corruption where investors pay bribes to speed up the granting of licences.

This would include the setting up of a one-stop centre that will facilitate all clearances under one roof instead of sending investors from one ministry to the other.

Mnangagwa said his government will ensure that there is protection of investments.

"As part of our economic reform measures, we will continue to guarantee the protection of private property rights.

"Equally we will observe bilateral investor promotion and agreements. Let me assure you that all foreign investments will be safe in Zimbabwe and foreign investors are free to repatriate their proceeds in accordance with our laws."

Mnangagwa also met diasporans in the US and invited them to invest back home.

Source: Mnangagwa offers Trump Victoria Falls golf course (25/9/18)

Wednesday 12 September 2018

Victoria Falls international arrivals continue to soar

 Tourist arrivals to Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe, increased by 11% in 2017, with international arrivals sharply rising, with the UK showing the most notable growth.

The international border tourist arrivals are distorted by cross-border movements by the same tourist on multi-country visits, day trips to Victoria Falls from Chobe/Kasane, and day trips to Chobe National Park from Victoria Falls and Livingstone. Therefore, the total number of actual international tourists is thought to be between 355 000 and 390 000 in 2017. The estimate has been arrived at by counterbalancing hotel and accommodation stays as well as entries to the Victoria Falls rainforest with tourist arrivals at borders, according to Africa Albida Tourism (AAT) who sponsored and conducted the survey.

The UK led the pack in 2017, doubling in arrivals, with 12 765 recorded in 2017 compared with 5 073 in 2016.

According to AAT’s report, the upsurge in UK arrivals in 2017 is likely to be just the beginning of significant volume increases.

Ross Kennedy, AAT Chief Executive elaborates: "The UK market was our largest source market until 2001. There is a long history, connection and bond between our two countries, but this was severely damaged by events between 2000 and 2015.

“In the last two years, the UK market has responded to many positive changes in Zimbabwe, as well as recognising and, indeed, remembering, that we have an incredible tourism destination to offer in Zimbabwe.”

According to Kennedy, the FIT market and group series market has once again fully engaged with the region’s tourism industry, and is selling an increased amount of the entire product and experience available in Zimbabwe.

The 2017 growth over 2016 has further increased in 2018 year-to-date versus 2017, a trend that should continue, explains Kennedy.  “The new Victoria Falls International Airport with its geographical hub location, plus much enhanced regional route access and connectivity have also played a part in the growth.”

Other key source markets that showed good growth include:

  • USA: 73 803 in 2017 compared with 63 502 in 2016.
  • Germany: 25 855 in 2017; 21 288 in 2016.
  • Australia: 17 023 in 2017; 13 383 in 2016.
  • France: 16 092 in 2017; 11 244 in 2016.
  • Japan: 31 702 in 2017; 19 718 in 2016.
  • Italy: 9 275 in 2017; 7 666 in 2016.
  • Switzerland: 5 749 in 2017; 5 747 in 2016.
  • Canada: 5 747 in 2017; 1 198 in 2016.
  • India: 2 079 in 2017; 1 308 in 2016.
  • China: 5 359 in 2017; 1 712 in 2016.

Tourism visits to the Victoria Falls Rainforest (Zimbabwe side only) rose sharply, adding 36% in two years. Local and regional arrivals were flat, mainly caused by excessive police roadblock activity on highways, which has now ended. This masked a meaningful rise in foreign tourist visits to the Falls of 50% over the two-year period.

Hotel room stays increased by 20% over this period, indicating a substantial increase d use of alternative accommodation options on the Victoria Falls (Zimbabwe) side of the river.

There was a further sharp increase in visitor numbers to the Zimbabwe side of the rainforest in 2018 of 26%, however foreign visitor number growth rose 28% vs. local 15%.

Hotel accommodation stays grew less than rainforest visits at 12.5% in 2018 for the first six months, again reflecting a boom in non-hotel stays on the Zimbabwe side.

Occupancies were approximately 54% for 2017 for the area, reflecting substantial room capacity availability still for the short term.

According to the report, strategic opportunities include: a convention centre, which would benefit the area and assist airlines with volumes and business-class passengers; room for large volume activities to extend stays;  wide range of opportunities exist for the Meetings, Incentives, Conferences and Events (MICE) markets; less than 10% of area arrivals are children, therefore there is potential for family activities; Special Economic Zone (SEZ) investment incentives are being offered in Victoria Falls, and other investment initiatives in Livingstone and Chobe; as well as lower priced activities.

Source: Victoria Falls international arrivals continue to soar (11/09/18)

Tuesday 11 September 2018

Chinese firm seeks to build new state-of-the-art Victoria Falls Bridge

(11th September 2018)

Chinese construction giant, China Communications Construction Company (CCCC) has submitted a proposal to Government for the construction of a new state-of-the-art bridge in the resort town of Victoria Falls. The current Victoria Falls Border Bridge, which opened to traffic in 1905, is located at the junction of Zimbabwe and Zambia.

It is the only railway link between the two countries and the only corridor across the Zambezi River in the region. But of late it has been unable to meet the increasing traffic demand owing to limited capacity.

In its project proposal, CCCC said "the construction of Victoria Bridge will not only affectively improve capacity across the Zambezi River, facilitate passenger and cargo transportation in the surrounding areas and promote the development of regional tourism, but will also play a significant role in strengthening regional ties and promoting regional economic development."

CCCC was one of the Chinese companies that met with President Mnangagwa in China last week and expressed interest to invest in Zimbabwe.

CCCC Limited is a publicly-traded, multinational engineering and construction company primarily engaged in the design, construction and operation of infrastructure assets, including highways, bridges, tunnels, railways, subways, airports, and marine ports.

The company has come up with at least three models for the proposed bridge; namely, the "Wing Bridge", the "Flying Bird Bridge" and the "Rainbow Bridge".

The Wing Bridge is a single-tower composite Girder Cable-Stayed bridge, two-lane road standard with sidewalks.

The bridge length is 297m and width is 17,5 metres, and can be transformed into a four-lane bridge.

The Flying Bird Bridge is a twin towers Composite Girder Cable-stayed Bridge, two-lane road standard with sidewalks. The bridge length is 262m and width is 17,5m.
It also has capacity to be transformed into four-lane bridge.

The Rainbow Bridge is a Deck Arch Bridge, two-lane road standard with sidewalks.

The bridge length is 208m and width is 13,5m and can also be transformed into a four-lane bridge.

Source: Chinese firm seeks to build new state-of-the-art Victoria Falls Bridge (11/09/18)

Friday 7 September 2018

African Sun profit up 672pc

Hospitality group, African Sun Limited, reported earnings growth for the half year to June 30, 2018 as operating profit surged 672 percent to $3,8 million on good business during election period.
Revenue rose 29 percent to $27 million buoyed by increased volumes at its hotels.

Basic earnings per share increased 1 700 percent to 0,36 cents from 0,02 cents in the comparable prior year period.

During the period under review, Zimbabwe witnessed an increase in foreign arrivals as observers from all over the world flocked the country to observe the election. The election campaign period was generally peaceful, and economists have said this should continue boosting investor confidence across sectors of the economy during the remainder of the year and going forward.

Domestic and foreign revenue growth was 26 percent and 32 percent respectively.

Key source markets, especially Europe, Asia and United States of America played a critical role in the growth of arrivals, all on the back of global tourism resurgence.

“There was a remarkable increase in volumes across the hotels, with city hotels benefiting significantly from elections, conferencing and corporate related business whilst Victoria Falls area hotels benefited from increased foreign arrivals,” said African Sun in a statement accompanying the group’s financial results.

“This positive trend was achieved despite the constrained macro-economic environment emanating from unresolved liquidity and foreign currency shortages.”

Occupancy level increased 10 percent to 55 percent, which helped boost revenue growth. Average daily rate also increased 9 percent to $97.

African Sun said the occupancy growth was driven by a strong performance from all the markets, with room nights sold for domestic, international and regional increasing by 16 percent, 26 percent and 22 percent respectively.

This resulted in revenue per available room (“RevPAR”) increased by 33 percent to $53 from $40 achieved in the same period last year.

Finance costs declined by a notable 33 percent to $0,33 million from $0,49 million due to loan repayments and lower average borrowing rates. Total assets remained almost flat at $38 million.

In the outlook, African Sun is upbeat of maintaining the growth trajectory as the sector enters its peak period- festive season.

“The remaining trading period falls into the Group’s peak trading season. We expect conferencing and international market business to drive performance.  The Victoria Falls properties should continue to experience growth in foreign arrivals,” said African Said.

Bookings for the remainder of the year are already higher than same period last year while various infrastructure projects around the country, including upgrading of Robert Gabriel Mugabe International Airport, the Beitbridge to Chirundu road rehabilitation and Beitbridge border post development will bring business opportunities for the group.

Management will therefore continue to focus on revenue generation and cost reduction initiatives to navigate the current challenging business environment, leveraging regional and international brands and their respective loyalty programmes.

The group declared an interim dividend of 0,0581 cents a share.

Source: African Sun profit up 672pc (06/09/18)