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Saturday 28 September 2019

Livingstone residents to oppose the construction of a Golf course, Hotels in the Mosi-O-Tunya National Park

Several residents of Livingstone are today expected to oppose plans by Mukuba Property Development Company to develop the Mosi-oa-Tunya Livingstone Resort that will comprise two hotels, a 600-seater conference centre and a Golf Course inside the national park.
The residents who have grouped themselves together will air their concerns today at a Public Hearing on the proposed Mosi-O-Tunya Livingstone Resort to be organized by the Zambia Environmental Management Agency (ZEMA).
The project is being pushed by Mukuba Property Development Company who are proposing to develop a 16.85-hectare piece of land in the Mosi-oa-Tunya National Park in Livingstone.
The proposed development will comprise a 126-key 5-star hotel with three floors, a 182-key 3-star hotel with three floors, a 600-seater conference centre, a Mashee Golf and Putt Course, a kids club, Twelve staff accommodation units, Three swimming pools, a slipway, two jetties, two water features, a maze, two tennis courts, a pump station and other ancillary facilities.
According to a notice from ZEMA, the public hearing will be held at Falls Park Shopping Mall at 10:00 hours.
Livingstone resident Margaret Whitehead who is opposed to the project said residents should come out in numbers and oppose the venture.
“All concerned citizens should be there. This is a revival of the Legacy Project from 12 years ago. Different company name, same people. Given land in park which was not advertised or put out for tender and will disrupt wildlife especially elephants. Propose to put a hotel below flood line,” she said.
And Claire Whitehead, another Livingstone resident and wildlife activist says the project should be rejected.
“Let’s take action on this and make submissions. Do we want to lose this last elephant corridor in the area? Do we want to lose our elephants? Do we want yet more fenced developments inside the national park, on the border of the World Heritage Site? What effect will it have on the already stressed elephants? How many more lives will be lost? What effect will it have on the birds and other wildlife in the area? Please take action if you care.”
In November 2007, the then Environmental Council of Zambia (ECZ) rejected an appeal by Legacy Holdings to carry out a similar project in Livingstone ahead of the 2010 World Cup which was held in Livingstone.
Government restricted the proposed development in the Mosi-O-Munya national park because it was in a protected area, a pathway for elephants and was part of a world heritage site.
UNESCO had lambasted the governments of Zimbabwe and Zambia, threatening them with a world-wide campaign to discourage tourists from coming if Legacy Holdings’s development was not stopped.
The UN agency also mentioned that the two countries had manifestly failed to implement agreed protocols for the management of the World Heritage Site as a whole.
The agreement between Legacy Holdings Zambia and DNPW was nullified due to no activity.
The shareholders of Mukuba Property Development company and directors are Mr. Renatus Mushinge – 33.33% Shareholding held under African Eagle Hotels & Resorts, Valentine Chitalu – 33.33% Shareholding and Jacob Jone Sikazwe – 33.33% Shareholding
The proposed project cost is estimated to be $149 million and the construction works will commence in the third quarter of the year 2019 projected over a 2 year completion period.
Mukuba Property Development Company plans to develop 16.85ha allocated to them in the Mosi-oa-Tunya National Park in Livingstone.
The company is expected to sign a 50-year lease agreement with the Department of National Parks and Wildlife to kickstart the project.
The resort will be operated by Hilton Worldwide, a world class hotel operator.

Thursday 19 September 2019

Fuel shortages, power cuts cripple tourism industry, Zimbabwe

THE prevailing fuel shortages and prolonged power cuts have become the major bottlenecks crippling the growth of the tourism industry.
Tourism industry players who attended last week’s Sanganai/Hlanganani Expo in Bulawayo, complained about fuel shortages and incessant power cuts. They said power cuts have increased cost of doing business as they have to spend more on alternatives. Those who have invested in generators cried foul over inadequate diesel supply.
In an interview at the close of the conference, Tourism Business Council of Zimbabwe (TBCZ) chief executive officer, Mr Paul Matamisa, buttressed the concerns.
“Fuel shortage in the country is so far a major handicap to the growth of the tourism sector. The availability of fuel is really not up to standard if we are looking at tourism,” he said.
“The flow of traffic if people come into Zimbabwe, they aren’t coming to stay in Bulawayo or Harare or the major cities. They want to go to tourist attraction sites like Victoria Falls, Nyanga, and Great Zimbabwe.
“We have to make sure that we create service stations, which are going to be perpetually well provided with fuel, not a question of when you get there (filling station), maybe, because tourists don’t make a journey on a maybe basis.”
As such, Mr Matamisa implored Government to create ever green service stations to support industry operations and movements to various centres by tourists. Asked about how the tourism sector was coping on account of fuel shortages being experienced across the country, Mr Matamisa said:
“Players in the tourism sector are presently running from one service station to another in search of fuel and this is not good for the growth and development of the tourism business as more business hours are being lost.
“So, what we are simply saying is that we require people to have fuel for the business as well and not just for the travellers but the business that is supporting the travellers. If the businesses that facilitate tourist movements don’t have fuel then, there is a challenge”.
TBCZ projects that Zimbabwe’s tourist arrivals will this year grow by a minimum of 10 percent from 2,6 million tourists that visited the country last year. The anticipated growth trajectory in tourist arrivals is on the back of events such as Sanganai/Hlanganani World Tourism Expo as well as Zimbabwe’s participations at tourism indabas held in other countries such as South Africa and Berlin, German where local players have packaged and marketed the country’s tourism products to international visitors.
Mr Matamisa said they were also pleased that Government has acceded to their request to extend rebates on imported tourism equipment.
“In that regard, we would like to see more of all the tourism sectors being given the rebate facility so that we help them to facilitate growth in those other sectors, which currently do not have rebates.
“For instance, car hire companies have motor vehicles as their main mode of business and we need to assist them so that they are also able to procure up to date and standard vehicles that will be used by tourists.
“We are happy that Government acceded to our request for the coaches and buses for the tour operators.
“They are now in the ring but there are still many other players, restaurants for instance, they need new equipment and so on to upgrade their facilities and all that is required for them to improve business in their sector,” he said.
In the 2019 fiscal policy statement, Finance and Economic Development Minister Professor Mthuli Ncube proposed a rebate of duty on 75 new buses with a carrying capacity of eight to 55 passengers including the driver for the tourism industry.

Sunday 15 September 2019

Elephant kills Renowned Livingstone tour guide

Livingston based renowned local tour guide Chiinga Siavwapa has been mercilessly killed by an elephant.
Chiinga was renowned Zambian musician Shyman Shaizo’s elder brother.
Police say Chiinga 45 who was owner of Southern Safari Touring Company was guiding tourists at Maramba cultural bridge yesterday around 07:00 hours morning when he was attacked and killed by an elephant.
One of the tourists who was being guided by Chiinga said about 10 elephants suddenly pitched up from the bush and one charged towards them but Chiinga clapped and it went away.
He however said another huge lone elephant charged towards Chiinga as he was in an open area and attacked him.
“There were two young calfs in the heard and one huge elephant charged towards Chiinga who was in an open area while we stood behind a tree. It picked him up with its trunk. It was very very awful. It stamped on him and used its tusks, it was very traumatic,” said the unidentified tourist.
Zambia Police Spokesperson Esther Katongo says Chiinga sustained a deep wound on his back.
She says his body has been deposited to Batoka Hospital mortuary.

Old Mutual to construct ‘massive’ hotel in Vic Falls

The country’s largest financial services group, Old Mutual Zimbabwe Limited, is geographically diversifying its properties with a massive hotel development in the resort town of Victoria Falls.

The development, which will see a construction of a hotel and conference centre, is also in line with supporting the tourism industry, which is the main economic activity for Victoria Falls.

Group chief executive officer Jonas Mushosho told The Sunday Mail Business that tourism is an integral part of the economic agenda, and the sector has been identified as one of the low- hanging fruits that Zimbabwe should take advantage of for growth.

As a major tourism destination in the country, which is also one of the seven wonders of the world, Victoria Falls will always be an ideal investment area, creating scope for the new hotel and conference development.
“In Victoria Falls, we are looking at both a hotel and conference centre,” said Mr Mushosho in an interview on the sidelines of the group’s financial results presentation.
“We are diversifying geographically, a lot of our properties have been concentrated in big centres like Harare and Bulawayo, but we believe there are other areas of interest and economic activity, so we have diversified into Hwange, Victoria Falls and into Ngezi.
“Victoria Falls is major tourism destination and we believe that it is important to develop an ecosystem that supports the tourism; therefore, our developments and investments there are part and parcel of supporting that ecosystem.
“Tourism in Vic Falls is an important part of what’s happening in the country,” he said.
The development of new hotel facility will also support the anticipated growth in the sector.
Although the finer details of the developments, like capex, size of the facilities, as well as the specific timelines, Mr Mushosho said initial work was already under way.
He said: “We are going through various studies and doing alignment with other investors to make sure that our development is in line with that ecosystem, a lot of work is currently underway.”
The new hospitality facility will also help room capacity in the resort town, as well as in the country as a whole.
The whole of Zimbabwe has less rooms as compared to Sandton, in Johannesburg alone.
Currently, Victoria Falls’ hotel room capacity stands at 1 128 rooms, while major centres like Harare and Bulawayo have 1 628 and 370 respectively.

Friday 13 September 2019

Batoka chiefs welcome the Litunga

His Majesty the Litunga, King of Barotseland, Imwiko II has arrived in Livingstone to grace the 5th Zambezi International Regatta scheduled to take place on the 14th of September.
On hand to receive him as his aeroplane touched down on Wednesday afternoon, 11th September 2019, were several Batoka chiefs, among them, their Royal Highnesses Chief Chikanta and Chiefteness Sekute of Kalomo district, covering Dundumwezi and Kazungula districts respectively.
The chiefs were at the Harry Mwaanga Nkumbula International Airport alongside the Provincial Minister, Edify Haamukala, to welcome the Litunga who is in the tourist capital for an official royal visit to grace the International Regatta and South investment Expo at the invitation of the Provincial leadership and the government of Zambia.
Batoka, now largely the Southern Province of Zambia, was once a District of Barotseland and its people continue to enjoy a very special relationship with the King of Barotseland.
And the Litunga was accorded the full customary royal salute, known as ‘Ku showelela’, as he disembarked from the Zambia Air Force (ZAF) aeroplane, after which he and his entourage proceeded to greet thousands of royal enthusiasts who had been waiting for his arrival at the royal pavilion especially set up for the occasion of His Majesty’s royal visit in the tourist capital.
As His Majesty entered the royal pavilion in his characteristic majestic walk, known as ‘Ku tamboka’, he was treated to more royal salutations from all his royalists in unison, after which the spectacular ‘Ngomalume’, a special dance for men and warriors, was performed to welcome the King of Barotseland.
The Litunga’s entourage aboard the Zambia Air Force (ZAF) plane, which touched down at Harry Mwaanga Nkumbula International Airport at 15:08 hours Wednesday afternoon, included his Prime Minister, Mukela Manyando, and Richard Kapita, who is Zambia’s Provincial Minister to Barotseland - now officially known as the Western Province of Zambia, District Commissioners and some chiefs and Induna from Barotseland.
Meanwhile, the Livingstone City Council has mounted the Litunga and Barotseland’s Royal Flag alongside the Zambia National Flag to symbolise His Majesty’s presence in the capital as the city comes to life with festivity in the week ahead.
On Friday, the 13th of September, 2019, the King and his royal entourage of about 350 royalists will perform a traditional ceremony called Kupuwana, at which the Barotse Royal Establishment (BRE) will paddle their royal boats and barges for a flotilla in Kuomboka like manoeuvres on the mighty Zambezi River.
Although similar to Kuomboka, the Kupuwana ceremony is a distinct water ceremony the King of Barotseland undertakes when on an official or ceremonial tour of duty, different from the annual Kuomboka or Kufuluhela festivals.
Consequently, alternative but equally spectacular royal barges, such as the Indila, are used for the voyage in the place of the Nalikwanda and the Notila royal barges that are the main features during the Kuomboka water festival and its reverse voyage, Kufuluhela.
In recorded history, this will be the third time that the Litunga of Barotseland has travelled to Livingstone to perform the Kupuwana procession on the incredible Zambezi River, the only other time being in 1925 when King Yeta III came to meet with the Prince of Wales and the 1947 royal journey undertaken by King Imwiko I.
His Majesty, the Litunga is in Livingstone to grace the 5th Zambezi International Regatta and also mark the beginning of the Southern Province EXPO.
The Regatta starts on 14th September 2019 which, in the next days, will see the Alumni from Oxford and Cambridge, men and women crews, battling it out on the Zambezi River against their South African challengers.
This year’s festival is an International Centenary Rowing Regatta and White Water Kayaking which will allow both attendees and participants to experience the rich and unique traditional music, culture, drama, street performances, arts, crafts, fairs and workshops.
Universities like Oxford, Cambridge, Rhodes and Wits will participate and manoeuvre their way through hippos and crocs with the spray of the falls as a backdrop.
In 1910, Livingstone also hosted the World Professional Sculling Championships between World Champion from New Zealand and the British champion.
Between 1910 and 1964 several important regattas have taken place from the Zambezi Boat Club involving Zambians, British, South African and local clubs.
1996 saw a visit to the Victoria Falls by Richard Fishlock, an ex-British Olympian and Oxford rower, as a result, an idea for the first Oxford Cambridge Regatta was discussed. It was developed by Peter Jones of The River Club, an established lodge on the banks of the Zambezi, on the Zambian side.
However, the first modern Zambezi International Regatta took place in 2004, followed by 2005, 2007 and 2010, and all these regattas were attended by Oxford and Cambridge Alumni, and leading South African Universities, men and women, from Rhodes, University of Johannesburg and Cape Town, and once in 2007 by Brown University, USA.
Fishlock and Jones remain the event organisers with a new partner, Lee-Anne Singh.
2019 will see the fifth event take place, as the showpiece of a week of sporting celebration to mark the Southern Province Investment Expo.

Monday 9 September 2019

Santonga Project still on the cards

THE Santonga “Zoo” project, which put Victoria Falls Town Council at loggerheads with animal activists and tourism players in the resort town, is still on the local authority’s plans, a situation which is likely to reignite the yesteryear flames.

The Santonga project was the brain child of Africa Albida Tourism which received environment impact assessment approval in 2007, but four years ago divided tourism players over whether or not it should go ahead.
Tourism players have vehemently opposed the project saying it would kill the enthusiasm in game drives, while residents fear it would close the animal corridors thereby increasing human-wildlife conflict in suburbs.
Faced with the outcry, the project was temporarily suspended, but there are fresh reports that council was mulling its resumption.
The situation is likely to put the local authority on the collision course with tourism players, animal conservationists and residents.
Victoria Falls town clerk, Ronnie Dube confirmed the project had gained traction.
“Let’s remove the zoo part of it. It’s not a zoo. The project is still in the pipeline. It had stopped because Zambezi Copters was supposed to move away from the place they operate from, near Elephant Hills Hotel. We have gained traction in having Zambezi Copters move to a new site, but being held back because the new site has no facilities such as water and sewer reticulation,” Dube said.
Victoria Falls Residents Association chairperson, Morgan Gazza Ncube said residents were still against the project which they said would lead to loss of jobs downstream.
“The residents are opposed to the project and have not changed their position on that. However, if the project implementers are saying they are still pushing for the project we will consult the people. I do not know whether they are still putting up logistics for its implementation,” Gaza Ncube said.
Employers Association for Tourism and Safari Operators president Clement Mukwasi said they were waiting to see what happens and then they would respond accordingly.
“We are against the establishment of a zoo in the resort town, but we are waiting to see their plans. At the moment we can’t say much. We will wait to react accordingly after seeing how they are progressing with the plan,” Mukwasi said.
Africa Albida Tourism chairperson, Dave Glynn has in the past defended the project saying it was not a zoo, but should be termed “Santonga, the Victoria Falls story” and be described as an edutainment park. He said the project would not lead to loss of jobs, but would create 150 direct jobs, adding that the World Tourism Organisation research showed a multiplier effect of 10 times, so they anticipated 1 500 downstream jobs.

Saturday 7 September 2019

Vic Falls an expensive destination

SOUTH African travel and tourism executives have lamented the high cost of holidaying in the Victoria Falls, saying it is one of the most expensive tourism destinations in the world.

The executives told businessdigest during the recent 2019 Africa Tourism Leadership Forum (ATLF) and Awards in Durban that Zimbabwe should try and make Victoria Falls affordable so that Africans can also marvel at one of the Seven Natural Wonders of the World.

The executives said in the spirit of promoting intra-Africa trade, African countries should devise strategies that will allow its people to travel across borders to visit tourism destinations.
The three-day meeting, whose theme was “stimulating intra-Africa Travel through thought leadership” was attended by chief executives in travel, aviation, hospitality and tourism sectors.
ATLF is a Pan-African dialogue platform that brings together key stakeholders of Africa’s travel, tourism, hospitality and aviation sectors to network, share insights and devise strategies for intra-Africa travel and tourism growth across the continent, whilst enhancing the brand equity of “Destination Africa”.

Travelstart senior commercial manager Linda Balme said it costs under R10 000 for South Africans to travel to Thailand, Bali or other such destinations including flights and accommodation for seven nights at a three-star hotel. She said for a four-star hotel it costs around R12 000, while a special holiday package to Victoria Falls for three nights costs more a South African one.

“That does not include any excursions which the Thailand Tourism Board will throw in. Coming from outside, it is important that we make airfare affordable, accommodation affordable, even if it is in the low season of travel so that we allow Africans to travel internally,” she said.

“Just give us better deals and we will fill rooms. It is better to have a hotel that is full than one that is 60% with euros and pounds. Rather fill it and it will generate more tourism and it will be more beneficial for everyone and it will keep trade going between the two countries and the continent as a whole. We need more airlines supporting those routes and more locals visiting Victoria Falls.”

In South Africa, 74,4% of tourism comes from within Africa. World Travel Tourism Council regional director-Africa Jillian Blackheard said: “As more Africans travel within our own countries and the continent, the low-hanging benefits for the travel and tourism sector are negated trends of seasonality, increased occupancy based on short lead time sales, tourism product diversification and demand outside limited traditional tourism regions and increase in tourism supply chain and demand for local circular economy.”

In another interview, Steward Travel coordinator and national tour guide PJ Mulaudzi said the Victoria Falls was no doubt the most expensive destination in Southern Africa. “We cannot tell them what to charge. But when you go to Zambia, things are far much cheaper. You have a situation where even airlines are taking advantage of the Zimbabwean issue. On any given day it is 30-40% cheaper to fly out of Livingstone to Johannesburg than it is to fly out of Victoria Falls,” he said.

He said what tourists pay at a five-star hotel in South Africa is the same amount of what they pay for a bed and breakfast (BnB) in Victoria Falls. “The hotel in Sun City is R2 500 a night and in Victoria Falls, you would have paid R10 000 for that kind of hotel,” Mulaudzi pointed out.
He said Zimbabwe needs to invest in upgrading its facilities in Victoria Falls otherwise it will continue to lag behind Zambia.

“I will give an example. The development in Victoria Falls is no way near what is happening in Zambia. The excuse they always come up with on the Zimbabwean side is that it is a national heritage site so they cannot do developments. Livingstone is also one. You go to the falls from the Zambian side and the hotel key is your entrance fees. You don’t pay not even a cent if you stay in a hotel there. If you are a non-resident, you pay US$20.”

Mulaudzi added that: “On the Zimbabwean side, which has 70% of the Falls, you pay US$30, which is a fair price. But the interesting thing is that on the Zambian side, they have state-of-the-art facilities –the toilets, the craft market. You check into any hotel in Zambia, you get ponchos (raincoats) complementary of the hotel. On the Zimbabwean side, you can stay in a US$1 000-per-night hotel, they don’t even give you anything.

“You go to the Falls and you have to pay entrance fees. You pay US$30 to enter the Falls and the toilets they have there were built by David Livingstone himself in 1855. They cannot even upgrade their toilets. The toilet paper you find, if you are lucky to find any, is the cheapest toilet paper but you have paid US$30.”

He said a visitor also has to pay US$1 for a one-quarter page leaflet with information about the Falls and a map of the trail in addition to the entrance fees. “It is a matter of they just want to take, take and take and they don’t want to give anything back. There is a need to intervene,” Mulaudzi said.
He said there was also need to relook the payment structure at the Matobo National Park and the levy for the helicopter rides.

“You go to Matobo National Park and US$15 per person to enter. The only thing you go to Matobo to see is Cecil John Rhodes’ grave and the bushmen paintings. You have paid US$15 at the gate and, when you get to the paintings, there is someone there waiting for you to pay US$10 to see the paintings. You go to the grave, there is someone waiting there to pay to US$10 to see the grave. So why did I pay the entrance fee because it is only the grave and the paintings they have got?” he said.

“Go and check the toilets they have at the paintings. The seats are broken, there are holes and it doesn’t flush. There are these 200 or 500-litre drums of water and you have to take the water and put in the toilet and they are charging you US$10. If they want to charge that money, why not charge one entrance fees at the main gate? Again, they just want to take, take and take and not give anything.”
On the helicopter rides, he said: “The helicopter ride is US$150 and when you get to the helipad, there is someone waiting there and they want US$15 for Parks fees. Why not just charge US$165 and sort each other out later? You can’t even pay it by credit card, they want hard cash.”

He said the Zimbabwe National Parks and state tourism departments were to blame for this.
“The people I have a problem with are the national parks and the tourism authority, which are under the government. They must look more at promoting the destination more than taking and taking. At Victoria Falls if you charge me US$30 and I have clean facilities, I have no problems with paying. I just don’t understand, with the US$30, why they do not provide quality toilet paper, renovate or just buy new seats, which cost just R500 or R600, which is nothing compared to what they are charging,” he said.

Source: Vic Falls an expensive destination (06/09/19)