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Friday 31 July 2020

Zambia: Elephant kills man

 AN ELEPHANT has trampled a 39-year-old man to death in Kazungula district.

Osbert Malumo, whose body was found with multiple injuries, was killed in Songwe near the Mosi-Oa-Tunya National Park on Tuesday night.

Department of National Parks and Wildlife southern region senior warden Charles Simwawa and Ernest Nzala, a friend of Mr Malumo, said the incident happened around 19:00 hours.

“My officers rushed to the scene with State police, picked the body and deposited it in the mortuary (Batoka Hospital). This is the first elephant-related death recorded this year,” Mr Simwawa said.

He said five incidents of elephants killing people were registered last year.

Mr Simwawa advised Livingstone residents against moving in the game reserve area at night unless they are driving.

He said wildlife officers have been conducting patrols in the national park and nearby areas to scare away elephants in places where they are reportedly eating people’s vegetables.

Source: Jumbo kills man (30/07/20)

Thursday 30 July 2020

Victoria Falls name must fall now


MONUMENTS and cities named after the departed are designed to honour people, and to keep those honourees and what they stood for alive in our collective memory. Therefore, I am left to wonder as black majority Zimbabweans what are we honouring by letting the pride of our nation Motsi wa-Tunya Falls remain named after the queen, a woman who presided over the evil empire.

I believe that the name Victoria Falls shall fall and be replaced with Motsi waTunya, its real name, in honour of the indigenous Tonga people who named it first before the so-called David Livingston, who viewed our ancestors as savages, set foot on it. For the following three reasons, the name must go.

First, real heroes are the ones that pass the test of time. Their contributions do not wither under the constantly changing standards set by generations that follow. We do not have writings or utterances of Victoria on what she thought about Africans, as it's their custom not to comment in public. However, we can peer through her actions to see what she thought about us Africans.

On October 29, 1889, Victoria approved a charter that granted Cecil John Rhodes sovereign power to run our beloved country as a private company under the disguise of the so-called Rudd Concession agreement of October 30, 1888.

That charter led to murder, violence, massacres, hanging, land grab, displacement into reserves, theft, looting of mineral, subjugation, enslavement, discrimination and apartheid against our people being muted by Rhodes and his men.

That evil was made possible by Victoria's ascent to the charter. Today, that raging fire is still affecting us 200 years on. Should we continue to honour her for this unbearable pain and suffering that our people continue to shoulder today?

Second, when Lobengula later discovered what the concession really meant. He sent izinduna Babayane and Mshete to try and renounce it, but Victoria paid no heed. The queen had no intentions of even hearing their plea. Some accounts stated that she was fond of Rhodes's imperial ideas. As they say "svimbo inoperera pana mambo", which means "as the sceptre of authority is passed among the council, it stops at the chief".

Victoria had a chance to be counted, she did not want to listen to the African. Her desire for her race to dominate over the black race drove her, thus all the evils of the empire surely stops at her feet. For that reason alone, she should never be honoured on our beloved continent.

Third, we are told that changing the name would lead to a decline in the number of tourists. That is a fear-mongering argument from those who still want to continue to perpetuate the insults that our forbearers and our generation continues to suffer.

Let's us tear down names that bring hate and pain to our collective memory, and honour our ancestors who fought with bravery and love for our continent. So let us erase the memory and curse in our living consciousness and our land by removing Victoria from our sacred sites.

Let us remove David Livingstone and other monuments from the Falls and put them in a museum and replace them with monuments and sculptures of local people. If that means reduced revenues from tourism, it's a price that me and my fellow countrymen are willing to pay.

Tendai Kamba in Laramie Woming, USA

Source: Victoria Falls name must fall now (29/07/20)

Tuesday 28 July 2020

Sector meets to chart green tourism strategy

Leonard Ncube, Victoria Falls Reporter
VARIOUS stakeholders in Victoria Falls have come together in an effort to craft a strategy to make the resort town a sustainable green tourism destination.
This is in line with recommendations from the United Nations World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO), to which Zimbabwe is a member, for tourism players to have programmes that sustain green tourism.
In Zimbabwe the idea for green tourism was first mooted at the 2014 Sanganai/Hlanganani Expo in Harare when Government implored the industry to start implementing the concept.
Zimbabwe became the first country in Africa to embrace the green tourism concept under which industry players are expected to harness environmentally friendly activities when the then Ministry of Environment, Climate, Tourism and Hospitality Industry launched the concept in Victoria Falls in 2016 with 13 hotels and lodges being recognised for going green by embracing environment friendly practices.
Green tourism also called responsible tourism, sustainable or eco-tourism, refers to environmentally friendly tourism activities that have low negative impact on the surroundings.
Modern tourism trends encourage eco-friendly activities as a way of keeping resorts not only in their natural state, but to reduce chances of pollution and violation of any facility that has to do with tourism.
Victoria Falls was a few years ago declared a Special Economic Zone (SEZ) whose focus is tourism hence the need for the industry to be eco-friendly.
The resort town, also known as the country’s tourism capital, has a vision to become Africa’s green tourism destination.
The town has a challenge to beat competition from the industry across Zambezi River in Livingstone and also South Africa, which has been unscrupulous for literally marketing Victoria Falls as its own.
Greenline Africa Trust, a community based environment organisation organised an all-stakeholders meeting at a local hotel recently to chart a way forward.
The meeting was attended by various public and private organisations across different sectors including tourism and aviation, Government departments, Victoria Falls Municipality, Zimbabwe Tourism Authority, Hospitality Association of Zimbabwe (HAZ), Civil Aviation Authority of Zimbabwe (CAAZ), Zimbabwe National Parks and Wildlife Management Authority (Zimparks), individual operators and representatives of youths and community groups among others.
Greenline Africa Trustee Ms Charlene Hewat said the collective vision is to make the green tourism concept sustainable.
“We brought together all heads of organisations to discuss and set a framework on how we can move Victoria Falls to be a recognised green sustainable destination. We started some years ago working towards Victoria Falls becoming a green destination and now we have added the word ‘sustainable’ to make sure it’s not only green but sustainable for future generations,” said Ms Hewat.
She said the prevailing Covid-19 pandemic had inspired the industry to introspect and re-strategise.
“We do clean-ups and waste management towards green tourism. Hotels and lodges are working with ZTA in their various environment management programmes. We want to go for recognition internationally and together we can do it.
“What Covid-19 has taught us all is that it’s important to get our communities right locally. So let’s get Victoria Falls right and then tourists will come. This is an opportunity to take us to the next level and it’s very possible,” she said.
Part of the sustainable green tourism concept is minimising overdevelopment of the World Heritage resort, which is expected to maintain its natural and pristine environment.
Ms Hewat said the idea is not to stop development but to look at it in a sustainable manner since the world is growing.
Victoria Falls will soon be a city if its application for the status is approved by Government.
Green tourism and environment expert Ms Veronica Chapman implored the different organisations in the resort town to identify champions who will work as a team to develop the vision and achieve key result areas to enable the town to become an internationally recognised sustainable green destination.
“The goal is to look at how Victoria Falls can become an internationally recognised sustainable destination. That’s the vision and the issue is how do we make that happen? We are already working to a larger extent with businesses for us to really become a recognised sustainable destination.
“This is something we have always been talking about but to achieve this goal we need all sectors to work together. We had started and doing a lot in the town in terms of sustainability but now everybody had been disengaged because of Covid-19.
“We are reengaging as leadership from various organisations and talking as a sector to plan the way forward so that information is disseminated,” she said.
Ms Chapman said some of the measurable are waste, energy and water management, culture, heritage, wildlife protection and land use planning and development.
“We don’t want our town to become one of those destinations that are affected by over tourism in terms of over-development hence losing that unique special authenticity of being a true green destination. This also includes management of communities. When you talk about responsible tourism you have to look at and take care of our own people or community, addressing human-wildlife conflict and deforestation. We have to come up with workable solutions to these challenges,” she said.
Ms Chapman said there are lessons to be leant by Victoria Falls from other world resorts that are recognised as green destinations.
She said the resort town is confident of a brighter post-Covid-19 era, with the pandemic having given the industry time to reflect on how to move forward in a very positive way, backed by a responsive community.
Speaking during the meeting, Victoria Falls Airport manager Mr Ronnie Masawi said Victoria Falls “has amazing champions who can take the town to the next level given proper facilitation and support.”
One of the town’s leading hotels Ilala Lodge has since adopted a sustainable waste management plan as it has taken a leading stand in championing green tourism through various activities in the resort town.
Located strategically closer to the Rainforest to give a clear view and spray of the waterfall, Ilala Lodge has started several projects such as cleaning the surroundings, maintaining roads and donating towards environmental management.
One of its executives, Ms Amy Clements said hotels can play a critical role in achieving sustainable green destination status.
She said Ilala Lodge Hotel had a passion for sustainable environment and its employees were committed to ensuring pollution free and attractive surroundings.
“We have adopted some sections of the town where we maintain the road markings, have donated metal bins and participated in cleaning of the area. Our staff are always busy landscaping around the premises which has also helped us keep them busy during the lockdown,” she said.
The local authority has also played its part providing regulatory instruments like policies and by-laws to safeguard the environment as it has a mandate to safeguard the world heritage destination.
Its Public Relations and Economic Development Officer Mr Ngqabutho Moyo said the local authority had established partnerships with several organisations on the environment and climate preservation initiatives to help maintain Victoria Falls’ green status.
“Victoria Falls is home to one of the Seven Wonders of the World hence it has the mandate to play vanguard role to world stakeholders as the keeper of the property. The local authority plays a facilitator, developmental and regulatory role in ensuring that the destination maintains its natural state.
It also ensures that local and foreign tourists have easy access to the Falls through provision of excellent services such as trafficable roads, sewer, clean water and solid waste management and other public utilities,” he said.
Mr Moyo said council also regulates heights on development structures to keep the destination in its pristine state.
“Adherence to these stringent regulatory guidelines ensures Victoria Falls maintains its status as one of the Seven Wonders of the World and also a certified world heritage site,” he said.
Mr Moyo said the local authority’s role is not limited to consumptive services but also promotes investment in different areas.
He said the municipality collaborates with various local and international agencies to make Victoria Falls a preferred destination of choice for both tourism and investment.
Mr Moyo said the town is represented at an international level by its engineering department in the Joint Technical Committee, which is part of the Joint Integrated Management Plan (JIMP) between Zimbabwe and Zambia.
“The joint initiative is a sustainable development watchdog that guides new projects and protects the livelihoods of both flora and fauna. The council’s department conducts spatial mapping of core and buffer zones and monitors developments in accordance to land uses highlighted in the spatial development plan and draft master plan,” he said.
All stakeholders are also collaborating through the “We are Victoria Falls Initiative” which was established under the Zimbabwe Destination Programme by the Tourism Ministry supported by International Finance Corporation (IFC) to strategise for the sector’s post Covid-19 period. — @ncubeleon

Saturday 25 July 2020

Vic Falls feeding scheme benefits 4000 children

Leonard Ncube, Victoria Falls Reporter
A daily community feeding programme initiated by the taskforce on Covid-19 in Victoria Falls last week has attracted close to 4 000 vulnerable children.
A steering team comprising pastors from various churches in Victoria Falls and some individuals from the taskforce are overseeing the programme.
They are targeting more than 8 000 school pupils up to Advanced Level, a figure which the organisers say is informed by findings of their research.
From less than 1 000 children fed on the first day on Wednesday last week, the figure shot up to 3 377 on Tuesday this week and increased to 3 870 on Wednesday.
Seven feeding points have been opened at Apostolic Faith Mission Church, Salvation Army, Christian Centre, Family of God, Seventh Day Adventist, United Methodist Church and Trust in God Pre-School.
The feeding centres are in both Mkhosana and Chinotimba high density suburbs.
Kids are served either isitshwala or rice with soya mince, beans and coleslaw.
Various well-wishers in Victoria Falls donated mealie-meal and other items while part of the rice came from the 30 tonnes of rice given to the local taskforce by the Ministry of Public Service, Labour and Social Welfare recently.
The programme comes after the realisation that the Covid-19 induced lockdown had left most families facing hunger. The closure of the tourism industry in the resort town left about 80 percent of workers jobless.
The feeding programme is a relief to some families that had resorted to one meal per day due to lack of food.
Ms Nyarai Mudimba (40) of Chinotimba who was at AFM feeding point with her three children, one aged 13, the other one 10 and another less than a year, said she was happy that her chilren are now guaranteed lunch.
“For the past months we have been having one meal which was in the evening and just porridge in the morning. We had resorted to beg from neighbours and I am happy that now we can have two proper meals a day,” she said.
Another parent Ms Florence Ncube (29) whose two children are being fed said: “We were struggling to have decent meals after my husband lost his job in the tourism sector. This is a relief because it’s been hard especially with minor children who need food regularly. I can now make porridge in the morning knowing we are assured of their lunch and then have our supper. All along we have been foregoing both breakfast and lunch to save for supper and kids were now eating left overs in the morning.”
Feeding is from Monday to Friday between 12.30PM and 2PM.

Friday 17 July 2020

Victoria Falls carries region’s tourism hopes

A NEW campaign to restart tourism in five Sadc countries including Zimbabwe using Victoria Falls as the springboard rightly describes the world’s most pristine tourism ecosystem as Africa’s Eden.
The campaign promoting Kavango-Zambezi (KAZA) Trans frontier Conservation Area constituted by parts of Angola, Botswana, Namibia, Zambia and Zimbabwe says the tourism community is fragmented, dispirited and economically stressed and therefore Victoria Falls in Matabeleland North can be the salvation as it has the potential to drive increased business, keeping more revenue in local economies.
Since most regional countries went into lockdown due to Covid-19, companies and individuals alike were left vulnerable hence the push to turn the tide.
Zimbabwe Tourism Authority’s head of corporate affairs Mr Godfrey Koti said the sector has so far run losses, but the recent reopening of the tourism industry has given them hope.
“We were looking at getting about $1,5 billion at the end of the year from tourism but that was heavily impacted by the Covid-19 pandemic. We are now anticipating a loss of between $500 million and $1,1 billion,” said Mr Koti.
“In terms of what has been gotten from January 1 to April, it’s really not much; that is why we are not reporting on it in terms of the funds that were made. We lost at least 20 percent of our projected revenue in the first two months just because it’s a slow period. Then March there was nothing that came from tourism until now. We have been in a dip.”
Mr Koti said the recent reopening of the tourism industry has given the sector a bit of hope in terms of financial projections in this particular quarter.
He said the country’s post Covid-19 tourism recovery strategy is anchored on three pillars, domestic, regional and international tourism which will be marketed in phases.
To facilitate tourism recovery, Government has also been playing its part and recently it set aside $500 million in guarantees for players to enable them to access capital in the form of loans from banks. A total of $20 million will provide seed capital to kickstart a Tourism Revolving Fund while Value Added Tax (VAT) payable by domestic tourists for accommodation and visitor services has been waived.
As Government and regional countries pin their hopes on Victoria Falls to drive tourism recovery, industry players in the resort town are complementing this by looking at ways to rightly position the prime tourist destination.
Last month stakeholders in and around Victoria Falls launched the “We Are Victoria Falls” initiative to effectively communicate reliable and up to date information on the destination during the pandemic.
So far the initiative has launched a newsletter, developed a website and social media portals.
We Are Victoria Falls Crisis and Recovery Initiative’s coordinator Miss Shelley Cox said all stakeholders, public and private, have been working to put in place exemplary health and safety measures as per Ministry of Health and Child care as well as WHO guidelines.
“Since the launch of the initiative, our communication has reached more than 50 000 people globally. The initiative has achieved good traction both regionally and internationally in communicating with the world the positive efforts that have and continue to be done on the ground in Victoria Falls during these times of adversity,” she said.
“The focus to date, under the guidance of our Victoria Falls Covid-19 taskforce, has primarily been on ensuring every effort is made in terms of preparedness and response to the pandemic which has included disinfecting and sanitising the town, establishing isolation centres and an ICU, providing effective support to the Victoria Falls community through awareness campaigns, mask and sanitiser distribution, food growing schemes and providing food security support to vulnerable households.”
On a regional scale, another initiative that started in January, the Victoria Falls Regional Tourism Association, the first multi-country marketing campaign entirely driven by the private sector to promote the KAZA countries with Victoria Falls as the core product, has been working to promote the destination.
Botswana based Victoria Falls Regional Tourism Association chief executive officer Ms Jillian Blackbeard said 11 companies around the world are working with them at no charge on strategies to facilitate tourism recovery.
She said they organised a Virtual Travel Trade Show that started yesterday and will end tomorrow to promote the destination which they are referring to as Africa’s Eden.”
On the use of Victoria Falls by Kaza countries as their tourism trump card, she said: “The organisation was formed by its members who are in the region. The brand ‘The Victoria Falls’ reflects the gateway and heart of the Kaza region and as a brand name, it is already well established in the minds of the consumer and the travel trade. Africa’s Eden refers to Kaza and the adjacent wildlife areas that were not included in the geographical boundaries such as Matopos and Tuli.”
Ms Blackbeard said some experts are predicting that it will take the tourism industry up to three years to reach the pre-Covid-19 levels.
“Tourism in Kaza, like the rest of the world, has been very hard hit by Covid-19 lockdown measures and border closures.
“The industry in general is only looking to begin recovery in 2021, starting with domestic travel, moving to regional and then finally international arrivals leading to recovery,” she said.

Wednesday 15 July 2020

Another Vic Falls Lodge Turned Into Covid-19 Centre As Schools Are Cleared Ahead Of Opening

 ANOTHER private lodge in Victoria Falls has been turned into a quarantine centre for returning residents as authorities try to clear schools that were being used as isolation places.

After turning an upmarket Phezulu Lodge into a quarantine centre in May, the Covid-19 Matabeleland North taskforce has converted Encore Budget Lodge formerly known as Adventure Zone into a quarantine centre.

This is despite the tourism industry slowly reopening in the resort town following the relaxation of Covid-19 regulations by government a fortnight ago to allow the sector to cater for domestic clients.

Phezulu Lodge was opened for returnees who opt to pay for their stay there at US$85 per day and Monday had six people under quarantine.

A total of 19 citizens have passed through the centre since it opened and most of them have been discharged.

Encore Budget Lodge opened Saturday with 46 returnees including a Namibian truck driver who is in transit.

Four of them were discharged on Sunday.

The 46 were transferred from Mosi-oa-Tunya High School which was all along the main reception quarantine centre for returnees coming through Victoria Falls from Kazungula border in Zambia and Pandamatenga border in Botswana.

Mabhikwa High School in Lupane has also been cleared and the returnees moved to Inyathi Training Centre to prepare for reopening of schools on 28 July.

Matabeleland North provincial social welfare officer Macnon Chirinzepi said: “Matabeleland North now has two operational quarantine centres namely Encore Budget Lodge and Inyathi Training Centre.

“Mosi-oa-Tunya High School and Mabhikwa High School have ceased to be quarantine centres as they have been closed in preparation for opening of schools. The remaining returnees have been transferred to Encore Budget Lodge and Inyathi Training Centre,” he said.

The province now has three quarantine centres as it continues to receive returnees especially from Botswana and South Africa through Plumtree and Beitbridge borders.

Meanwhile, authorities are tracing contacts of a 63-year-old Hwange woman who died last week and was confirmed to have succumbed from Covid-19. The province now has 25 confirmed cases and 13 recoveries as of Monday.

Source: Another Vic Falls Lodge Turned Into Covid-19 Centre As Schools Are Cleared Ahead Of Opening (14/07/20)

Monday 13 July 2020

Zambia sells part of Victoria Falls land to China

 ZESCO has sold land at the Victoria Falls to Chinese national Ju Wenbin for the construction of a Ferris Wheel.

Ju Wenbin is one of China’s richest men and is the CEO of China-Africa Cotton Development.

In January 2017 chief Mukuni fought with success attempts by State House to offer Ju Wenbin the curio market at the Victoria Falls to erect a Spin-Sational Ferris Wheel.

However, the National Heritage Conservation Commission (NHCC) has warned that the said land being within the Victoria Falls World Heritage Site (VFWHS) cannot have a construction of the proposed Ferris Wheel under UNESCO guidelines.

According to correspondences obtained by The Mast, Zesco managing director Victor Mundende on April 15 wrote to Victoria Falls Eye Limited’s lawyers Mosha and Company giving a go-ahead to the firm’s request to survey the land (Lot 473/M) at the Victoria Falls Power Station for subdivision.

The letter, ZESCO REF:MD 298/2020, addressed to Philip Chibundi states that the power company was in consent with Victoria Falls Eye’s request to survey the land.

“Please be advised that we have no objection to your undertaking the survey on the aforementioned portion of our property,” Mundende said.

Another letter from Livingstone town clerk Getrude Chilufya Chibiliti dated April 28 to NHCC south west director reveals a consent from NHCC who are the custodians of the VFWHS to subdivide the land.

Chibiliti informs NHCC in the letter that the council had been requested by the Ministry of Tourism and Arts through its tourism development officer based in Livingstone to give consent for the subdivision of Lot 473/M.

“An investor, Victoria Falls Eye Limited, has shown interest in constructing the Ferris Wheel on the subdivided portion of land. In view of the above, council wishes to engage your organisation as a stakeholder of the site and request a consent letter in order to proceed with the proposed subdivision,” Chibiliti requested.

NHCC in letters to Ju Wenbin and the council dated April 27 and 29 respectively did not object to the subdivision of the land but indicated: “Take note that the area…falls within the Musi-oa-Tunya National Park/Victoria Falls World Heritage Site. In this regard, all activities and planned tourism facilities must conform to, or be compatible with the UNESCO World Heritage Convention Rules and Regulations governing the area.”

An NHCC source warned that Zambia risks having the Victoria Falls placed under ‘endangered’ sites list if the Ferris Wheel is given a go-ahead.

“A shopping mall may be ideal but it’s like these guys are just interested in the wheel going by the name of the company Victoria Falls Eye,” the source said.

Employees are accommodated in some houses on the said land (Lot 473/M) which also includes a Catholic Church, bus station and a market. Zesco in an eviction notice dated April 29 demanded that people leave the area so as to have the properties demolished as they were in a national park against the wildlife Act Number 14 of 2015.

The notice signed by Zesco’s director of legal services McRobby Chiwela was copied to Mundende, the directors of power generation and human resources, and the two labour unions POGAWUZ and MESAWU.

“NOTICE OF EVICTION: Kindly be informed that the area housing the house you reside in is a national park, namely the Musi-oa-Tunya National Park not suitable for human habitation in terms of the Zambia Wildlife Act Number 14 of 2015. We are therefore giving you three months’ notice to vacate the house at hand with effect from 7 May 2020,” Chiwale stated.

He added that the lease agreement allowing tenants to occupy the said houses had also expired, adding that the three months’ notice was a “humanitarian” gesture.

And a wildlife department officer who spoke on condition of anonymity said there has never been any concern raised by the department over the housing units at the power station.

“It is worrying that Zesco has to drag us into this. If there was any correspondence from us, why did they not attach it to the eviction notice? Also strangely this letter giving notice of eviction is not copied to us. Mind you, some of the houses in the area in question belong to us and we have never told them that the area is not suitable for human habitation…,” the wildlife officer said.

The officer added that the area was actually not on the department’s red zones with regards human-animal conflict.

The officer revealed that the said land is still under dispute in the courts of law after another investor – a Hungarian national – was denied permit to install a balloon after being told to construct a bus station so as to displace minibus drivers and traders.

Source: Zambia sells part of Victoria Falls land to China (12/07/20)

Saturday 11 July 2020

Vic-Falls tourism facilities back to business

Leonard Ncube, Victoria Falls ReporterTHE world’s largest waterfall, Victoria Falls, officially opened to the public Wednesday bringing joy to tourism operators who said the development marks a huge step towards re-opening of the industry.
The world heritage site, comprising the Rainforest, Waterfall and David Livingstone Statue was closed in March as a response to worldwide travel restrictions caused by the novel Covid-19.
Since then the facility had remained closed, only opening for a few days last month when Government allowed tourism operators to take footage to market the prime resort destination.
Last week Government passed a Statutory Instrument allowing Zimbabwe Parks and Wildlife Management Authority (Zimparks) to open national parks and some amenities, while also allowing restaurants to open for sit in clients.
A visit to the Rainforest shows that Zimparks had set a health desk at the entrance where temperature checks and sanitization of visitors is done. The floor at the entrance has been tiled to enable cleaning for disinfection purposes.
Along Livingstone Road from the Central Business District leading to Victoria Falls border post past the Rainforest entrance, workmen were busy re-painting road signs.
Being the first day of re-opening, there were a few people on Wednesday, mostly operators, who visited the Rainforest. Zimparks has pegged entrance fees at US$7 or $441 per head. Proprietor of Jacaranda Lodge, Mrs Zhen Lihong who was in the company of her husband Mr Yu Yisheng said the re-opening was the first step towards resumption of regional and international tourism.
“It’s a beautiful sight and we are happy that the Falls have been opened after about 100 days. I was here in February and have been coming to check if it’s open. We hope people will come. We hope everything opens soon because we had tourists that were coming from China and we would want them to come back,” she said.
Another operator from DK Tours and Safaris, Mr Webster Musaidzi said: “We have got connections that we have been dealing with and we will take pictures and share with them on social media for them to see.”
 A tour guide based in Robins Camp in the Hwnage National Park Mr Simon Chinwadzimba said hopes were high for the local sector to attract more tourists.
“We are very excited by the opening of the Falls, which had been closed for some time. This is a very exciting moment and we hope it will attract more people and help the whole sector in Victoria Falls,” he said.
Hospitality Association of Zimbabwe (HAZ) Victoria Falls chapter chair Mr Anald Musonza said the excitement in the tourism sector was immeasurable. 
“We are excited as the tourism and hospitality industry that  the Victoria Falls and national parks are now officially open. This will help us re-open our businesses with confidence that our guests can come and experience the world wonder and do game drives. 
“It was encouraging to see some locals going into the Falls today. We are encouraging all local travel agents and tour operators to start having affordable local packages to kick-start domestic tourism. Now is the time and I am glad to report that Zimparks has put Covid-19 protocols in place for health and safety of staff and guests,” said Mr Musonza.
Some restaurants have since opened in anticipation of coming in of clients. Three Monkeys general manager Mr Greg Paymans said they opened on Tuesday and had put necessary health provisions to cater for clients and staff as they hope for business to start going up.

Tuesday 7 July 2020

Zimbabwe: Tourism operators prepare for reopening

Leonard Ncube, Victoria Falls Reporter
HOTELS and restaurant operators are beginning to make plans to reopen as the tourism sector begins to awaken following relaxation of lockdown rules by Government last week.
This comes as MARS has launched free testing of tourism workers in Victoria Falls after securing 600 test kits. The tourism sector is among the economic sectors worst affected by Covid-19, which led to international travel bans and subsequently a total shutdown of the industry, with eateries, hotels and activities being closed for a minimum of three months.
Government last week issued a statutory instrument (SI) allowing partial reopening of the tourism industry. Under the new rules restaurants can serve customers for sit-in meals during licensed hours.
The Zimbabwe Parks and Wildlife Management Authority (Zimparks) was also allowed to open national parks and other amenities including the mighty Victoria Falls, as well as safari operators to open for local clients.
The partial reopening of the industry for local clients is expected to restore hope in the industry, especially at a time when small operators were almost not sure of coming back to business life.
A snap survey by Business Chronicle around Victoria Falls showed that some restaurant and hotel operators had set dates for reopening and are currently working on putting health modalities for safety of clients and employees.
Many premises have reportedly been disinfected while operators are busy with testing of staff.
Wild Horizons chief executive Mr Gary Archer said the tour operator, which also runs restaurants and lodges is working on some modalities before opening its properties.
He said the new look upmarket Lookout Café, which reopened in January after massive refurbishment, will resume operations once health and safety measures have been fully prepared.
Three Monkeys restaurant, another upmarket eatery is expected to open today.
Leading operator, Africa Albida Tourism (AAT) is also understood to be preparing to reopen its Victoria Falls facilities comprising Victoria Falls Safari Lodge, Club, Suites, Lokuthula Lodges and The Boma Dinner & Drum Show this Thursday after closing more than three months ago.
Business Chronicle was told that the facility plans to start with a limited number of rooms and clients so as to maintain social distancing.
Several other players in the industry are reportedly busy facilitating testing of their workers in preparation for reopening.
This comes as the tourism industry has been calling for re-opening saying their counterparts across Zambezi River in Livingstone are already back in business.
Hospitality Association of Zimbabwe (HAZ) Victoria Falls chapter chair Mr Anald Musonza encouraged players in the sector to enforce safety regulations for a safe destination.
“MARS got about 600 kits as part of their corporate social responsibility to the Victoria Falls community and are offering free testing. Covid-19 tests are being done and we encourage every worker coming back to work to get tested and have face masks, gloves, sanitisers and disinfectants.
“I urge everyone to appreciate this gesture and utilise it for a good safe destination for our tourists and our community,” said Mr Musonza. — -@ncubeleon

Thursday 2 July 2020

Zim Tourism Could Lose US$1 Billion Due To COVID-19

The Zimbabwe tourism sector could lose between US$0.5 -1.1 billion in tourism revenue due to the COVID-19 induced lockdown across the globe.

The widespread of the coronavirus has crippled most economies around the world but tourism has been hard hit as tourist remain grounded.

Zimbabwe has not been spared as the Zimbabwe Tourism Authority estimates that international tourist arrivals s could decline by 70-80% if the current state of affairs persists.

“Zimbabwe international tourist arrivals could decline by between 70-87%. As a result, the decline is estimated to lead to a loss of between US$0.5 -1.1 billion in tourism revenues. The country has been receiving between 2.2 and 2.6 million visitors from 2017 to 2019,” said Givemore Chidzidzi, the ZTA Acting Chief Executive.

The United Nations World Tourism Organisation estimates that in 2020 global international tourist arrivals could decline between 60-80%.

The decline is estimated to lead losses of between US$910 Billion -US$ 1.2 Trillion in spending by international visitors globally.

Information, Publicity and Broadcasting Services Minister Monica Mutsvangwa said after yesterday’s Cabinet meeting that “in the tourism and hospitality sector, requests for variations of operating conditions in respect of restaurant operators, and to reopen safari operators for local hunting only and national parks were granted.”

In response, the ZTA said the move saying it will stimulate domestic growth.

“The tourism industry is extremely excited about the development, which is a great stride towards the opening of the tourism sector. We acknowledge the efforts by the authorities and indeed the nation to keep the spread of COVID-19 under check and thank the Almighty for his watchful eye over our nation.

The development will stimulate domestic tourism activity as we anxiously expect regional and international traffic to be allowed,” said Chidzidzi.

He noted that the sector will adhere to the stipulated guidelines.

“Our work is cut out for us as we have to ensure excellent service provision under the approved guidelines and strict protocols. The sector is ready and everyone cannot wait to start operating under the new conditions,” Chidzidzi added.

Source: Zim Tourism Could Lose US$1 Billion Due To COVID-19 (01/07/20)

Wednesday 1 July 2020

Covid-19 pandemic: People’s lifestyles changed worldwide

Prince Dzingirayi, Norleen Munyeza and Douglas Musiringofa
THE Covid-19 pandemic has brought panic, shock and unprecedented threats to human survival worldwide.
The novel coronavirus has attracted unprecedented measures to curb its spread and severity. Covid-19 was first discovered in Wuhan, China at the end of 2019 and is causing critical challenges for public health worldwide.
The Covid-19 outbreak has rapidly evolved into a fast-moving global pandemic, with world updates produced on a daily basis.
The World Health Organisation (WHO) declared the outbreak to be a Public Health Emergency of International Concern on January 30, 2020. On March 11, 2020, the WHO declared Covid-19 a global pandemic.
Globally, the number of Covid-19 cases has reached more than seven million and killed close to a million.
The first confirmed case of Covid-19 infection in the African region was reported in Nigeria on February 28. By April 1, 43 of the 46 Sub-Saharan African countries had reported confirmed cases of Covid-19.
According to WHO, Africa as a region, has the world’s greatest concentration of least developed countries, fragile and conflict-affected states, morbidity, inadequate housing, and poor healthcare.
This is an indication that most African nationals are living in poverty and are likely to be more susceptible to Covid-19 infection, due to overcrowding, poor sanitation, food insecurity and under nutrition, lack of education and health literacy among others.
Previous studies have shown that pandemics have drastic psychosocial impacts, which eventually become more pervasive than the pandemic itself. Research shows that the psychological impact of quarantine is wide-ranging, substantial and can be long lasting.
Taking into consideration the current lockdown situation and Zimbabwe’s economy stamina, it has disrupted social support networks hence causing more harm than good.
The spread of covid-19 is accelerating rapidly in Zimbabwe and the psychological impact of Covid-19 is scant. The government responded positively by initially announcing a nationwide total lockdown for 21 days starting on March 30, which was later extended indefinitely as a measure to prevent and mitigate the spread of Covid-19. The directive restrictive measures by the government has caused anger, frustration, sadness, panic, anxiety and a high rise of domestic violence in different communities.
Culturally, Zimbabwe is a collective community in which the “being-ness” of individuals is defined by interaction. Therefore, the public social distance has affected the norms and values of Ubuntu.
Research indicates that pandemics such as the Covid-19 can reduce quality of life, economic productivity and paralyse social systems. In Zimbabwe, the first case was recorded in Victoria Falls, the tourist hub and cash cow for government revenue.
The Victoria Falls region has for the longest time also struggled with one of the highest HIV prevalence rates in the country. Having the first case recorded in Victoria Falls did not come as a surprise with the thousands of international arrivals the town has each day.
Victoria Falls remains one of the most vulnerable towns to be highly impacted by the pandemic with a population of over 40 000 people who all converge for shopping from two major supermarkets and one bus terminus. With an increasing shortage of basic food supplies, supermarkets are flooded with people queuing for basic commodities, which expose them to the danger of infection. Victoria Falls used to be a hive of activity ranging from craftwork, cultural dance groups, village tours, township tours and vending among others.
The Covid-19 lockdown and slowdown has pushed Victoria Falls into mucky-waters. Tourism is the engine that runs the town from service delivery, economic development, education and social welfare. The advent of the coronavirus pandemic has left Victoria Falls in a dire situation with thousands of people losing their jobs and source of livelihoods.
Covid-19 has caused panic and fear among the residents resulting in multiple effects such as the uncertainties with their livelihoods, not being able to work during isolation, fear of being dismissed from work, fear of being separated from loved ones, feelings of hopelessness, boredom, fear of death, loneliness and depression due to isolation.
According to WHO, the effects of Covid-19 differ according to nations, culture, and political stability and support structures among others. In Victoria Falls, Covid-19 has barred hope to the whole community, which before the pandemic was entirely dependent on tourism. The implementation of the lockdown, slowdown and physical public distance popularly known as “social distance” are measures to mitigate the transmission of the coronavirus pandemic. In line with the above these restrictive measures have had significant psychological impacts to the lives of people.
Covid-19 leaves immediate and long-term traces of psychological trauma in communities like Victoria Falls. The sudden cut of sources of survival to the indigenous people in Victoria Falls will lead to the ramification of psychological disorders which can vary from depression, anxiety, panic attacks, somatic symptoms, and post-traumatic stress disorder symptoms, to delirium, psychosis and even suicide.
To curb these problems, psychologists should play a herculean role in responding to Covid-19 in areas such as Victoria Falls.
Covid-19 is the business for psychologists as it demands critical psychological interventions and awareness. It is imperative to have psychologists significantly participate in the Task Force for Covid-19 as the pre and post frontline workforce so as to fight this long-drawn battle and secure success for the future.
According to research, psychological defense is one of the key pillars used in Singapore’s Total Defense strategy to maintain hope, trust and faith between the population and the government so as to ensure resilience during crisis.
The psychologist should be on the frontline promoting mental wellness and initiating psychological interventions for instance cognitive behaviour therapy (CBT) and mindfulness-based therapy (MBT). These therapies will respectively teach relaxation techniques to combat anxiety and depression and to enhance stress management, mitigate maladaptive coping skills of avoidance and self-blame.
In Victoria Falls, there is widespread fear of being tested and quarantined (institutionalised). Everything starts in the mind; therefore, psychological empowerment is the best approach to fight the spread of the novel coronavirus.
The Covid-19 pandemic is therefore a wake-up call for improving our weak health structures and related institutional capacity as well as disaster preparedness. This pandemic is a test for national health sector governance.
On a traditional approach, there is need to respect our indigenous knowledge systems which cement our cultural values of ubuntu. There is need to rewire our indigenous health systems. Relying only on the allopathic approach is not enough, our ancestors used to have indigenous practices of fighting viruses such as influenza. The holistic approach to fight the epidemic is the best strategy to win the war against Covid-19. Behavior is a reflection of mental processes.
Prince Dzingirayi and Norleen Munyeza are lecturers at the Women’s University in Africa Psychology Department while Douglas Musiringofa is the director of Unica.

Lockdown: Tourism gets partial relaxation

Lockdown regulations for the tourism and hospitality sector have been partially relaxed by Cabinet so these two sectors, the most severely hit by Covid-19, can carefully and safely resume limited operations.
Restaurants are now allowed to serve sitting customers within their premises, but using only half their licensed capacity, while safari operations and national parks are allowed to re-open to help boost domestic tourism.
Information, Publicity and Broadcasting Services Minister Monica Mutsvangwa said after yesterday’s Cabinet meeting that “in the tourism and hospitality sector, requests for variations of operating conditions in respect of restaurant operators, and to reopen safari operators for local hunting only and national parks were granted.”
Restaurants are already allowed to stay open for their full licensed hours, but have been limited to take-aways until yesterday’s extra, but partial, relaxation.
The global travel and tourism sector was the first area of economic activity to be hit by the Covid-19 crisis, with traveller figures dropping significantly as countries across the globe, Zimbabwe among them, imposed lockdowns.
Government has already availed a $500 million bank guarantee facility to help the tourism and hospitality sector survive the slump and prepare for recovery. The facility is meant to assist the tourism sector access working capital loans from banks and insulate their businesses from the effects of the pandemic.
With the need to maintain strict controls on foreign travellers entering Zimbabwe, including the mandatory quarantine, the sector and Government are looking at domestic tourism to start the recovery, that is Zimbabweans returning to restaurants and visiting tourist attractions.