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Friday 26 November 2021

New US$25m Luxurious Hotel Opens In Vic Falls


VICTORIA FALLS: A new multi-million dollar luxurious hotel, built for US$24.6 million through a partnership by Old Mutual Zimbabwe and Spencer’s Creek was officially opened in this resort city Wednesday.

The Palm River Hotel has 73-rooms comprising a presidential suite, executive and honeymoon suites, 60 deluxe rooms, and standard.

There are also two-roomed beds conducive for people with disabilities.

It is located on the shores of the mighty Zambezi River with all rooms having a river frontage and dwarfed by towering riverside trees.

While the official opening was done Wednesday, doors will open for the first clients on December 1, with 31 rooms already on offer.

The hotel is offering opening specials of US$189 sharable per room per night.

Tourism executives who attended the official opening, which was presided over by Victoria Falls mayor Somvelo Dlamini could not stop marvelling the beautiful structures, comprising six blocks each with three floors, and a villa, which will be used by self-catering clients.

Victoria Falls being a tourism destination thrives on offering quality world-class services hence I believe The Palm River Hotel fits the bill,” Dlamini said.

“With this new establishment, prospects of visitors coming to Victoria Falls to access the facility are strong as the project
cements our ambitions as a preferred destination.”

The mayor added Zimbabwe’s tourism capital was celebrating the completion of the hotel whose construction started in 2019.

It was initially set to be opened by President Emmerson Mnangagwa in July, but that was postponed as the country plunged into another Covid-19 lockdown.

Spencer’s Creek also runs Ilala Lodge, another upmarket hotel in Victoria Falls.

Its managing director Jim Brown said the investment will earn the company in excess of US$6 million per annum.

Old Mutual also has a significant presence in the tourism industry and other sectors of the economy including mining, agriculture, energy, and infrastructure development.

Old Mutual board chairperson Kumbirai Katsande said the hotel offered an opportunity for solid returns.

“The Palm River project offers an opportunity for solid returns and value preservation for our valued clients. This is in addition to the value it offers to create employment and support the growth of the tourism value chain,” he said.

“On behalf of Old Mutual, I would like to express my sincere appreciation to our partners who generously helped this project to come to fruition. We look forward to the great success of this hotel, and our relationship into the future.”

Source: New US$25m Luxurious Hotel Opens In Vic Falls (25/11/21)


Tuesday 23 November 2021

Hope of tourism recovery as Vic Falls hits highest occupancies

 The Victoria Falls Safari Lodge estate last month recorded its highest occupancies since the onset of Covid-19 in March 2020, with operators in Zimbabwe’s top tourist destination optimistic of a recovery following the collapse of the industry.

Occupancy across Africa Albida Tourism (AAT)’s Victoria Falls Safari Lodge, Victoria Falls Safari Club and Victoria Falls Safari Suites’ 98 rooms reached 33% in October, with some other hotels in Victoria Falls also reporting similar occupancies.

This compares to average monthly occupancies across AAT’s three properties being 16% so far in 2021, while bookings for December are at 45% so far, so looking set to exceed the October month average.

AAT chief executive Ross Kennedy said while November has historically been a softer month, December and the festive season were showing good signs of being the busiest month since the start of the pandemic with new enquiries and bookings still coming in daily.

“The forward booking pattern seems positive at this time and from the second quarter of 2022 onwards there appears to be real momentum building,” Kennedy said.

“There are, however, many factors at play across all source markets and the world, so we take nothing for granted in an ever-changing extremely competitive environment.

“We are seeing a trend of many more late bookings, with guests from local, regional and international markets booking, paying and staying within one to three weeks.”

Guests have also been staying longer in the last six months and that trend is also reflecting in bookings, with some international visitors staying or booking for five to seven nights, Kennedy added.

The increase in occupancies comes as 96% of the Victoria Falls Safari Lodge estate staff have been fully vaccinated against Covid-19, as well as 86% of Victoria Falls’ adult population.

In addition, access to Victoria Falls has been boosted with airlines flocking back to the destination. Airlines currently flying into Victoria Falls are budget airline Fastjet, Ethiopian Airlines, Kenya Airways, British Airways (operated by Comair), Airlink, Air Zimbabwe and Mack Air, as well as charter airlines.

The Lufthansa Group’s new leisure airline Eurowings Discover will start flying into Victoria Falls from March 30 next year, increasing Frankfurt to Windhoek flights to a daily service, with a Windhoek-Victoria Falls-Windhoek tag flight three times a week.

Other international airlines to resume flights to Africa include Qantas with Johannesburg-Sydney flights three times a week from January 5, while Delta Airlines has also recommenced flights into Johannesburg from the United States, and British Airways into Cape Town from London.

Source: Hope of tourism recovery as Vic Falls hits highest occupancies (22/11/21)

Monday 22 November 2021

Victoria Falls to set up Masue City, Batoka City

Leonard Ncube , Victoria Falls Reporter
THE Government has made significant infrastructural developments in Victoria Falls despite the Covid-19 pandemic with a number of properties having been built in the past two years in line with the vision to make the tourist destination a conference capital.

Victoria Falls was declared a city in December 2019 becoming the first in the province and in Matabeleland region after Bulawayo metropolitan. President Mnangagwa conferred the status to the city.

Government wants to make Victoria Falls its conference capital and has since approved the Conceptual Development Framework for the Victoria Falls-Hwange-Binga Special Economic Zone (SEZ).

There are plans to come up with Masue City on the outskirts of the Victoria Falls City and Batoka City on the Zambezi gorges, which buttresses the combined development of Matabeleland North as a key component for transforming Zimbabwe into an upper middle-income economy.

The new developments will come with state-of-the-art facilities ranging from five to seven-star hotels, recreational, banking and sporting facilities and Government is courting investors. The Victoria Falls Stock Exchange was also opened last year to attract foreign direct investment and business into the city.

In an interview yesterday, Victoria Falls Mayor Councillor Somveli Dlamini said there was an investment appetite in the country’s tourism destination.

“Despite the Covid-19 pandemic, Victoria Falls has grown rapidly in terms of infrastructure development such as new businesses, hotels and lodges.

We have got quite a number of them such as The Palm River Hotel which is due for opening next week, Victoria Falls Pioneers Lodge which has been completed and waiting for opening, residential flats for bookings, town houses being built behind Far School, Mbano Manor Hotel which opened last year and other lodges as well as two new indigenous garages.

“All these developments came through during Covid-19 lockdown period and this shows that investors are seriously looking into investing in Victoria Falls,” said Clr Dlamini.

He said the city has run out of land for expansion and was pinning hopes on Government unlocking the land bank in Masue Estate, just outside the city. Clr Dlamini said shortage of land has seen the city’s housing waiting list ballooning to more than 15 000.

Victoria Falls is bordered by Zambezi River, national parks and forest land, and communal land. The city’s Master Plan is now outdated and the mayor said alternative policies were being pursued.

“We have a challenge. Our Master Plan was done way back and now outdated, and while we are waiting for it as it might take long because it requires a lot of funding, we are currently working on coming up with a local development plan.

We will be having it in the next few months and we believe land will be availed to cater for our housing waiting list which is hovering around between 15 000 and 20 000,” he said.

Speaking during the 2022 pre-budget seminar in Victoria Falls recently, Speaker of Parliament Advocate Jacob Mudenda implored Government to speed up development of the Victoria Falls Master Plan so as to create an appetite for investment in the country’s tourism capital.

Meanwhile, Clr Dlamini during the week met the Zimpapers board and top management on the sidelines of the country’s biggest media organisation’s strategic planning meeting in the resort city. Clr Dlamini said there was appetite by the two organisations to partner each other, which was key to development.

“Zimpapers plays a very crucial role in marketing Victoria Falls and we appreciate its interest in investing and partnering council in marketing Victoria Falls destination and these facilities. We feel marketing and advertising is key in making sure these facilities are exploited,” he said.

Locals have also called upon Government to allow the city to retain a percentage of earnings from the Rainforest for development purposes.

Source:  Victoria Falls to set up Masue City, Batoka City (21/11/21)

Wednesday 17 November 2021

Latest 5-star hotel to change face of Vic Falls

 DANIEL JONES in Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe

VICTORIA FALLS, (CAJ News) – ZIMBABWE is to add another five star hotel to its catalogue as part of US$3 million investment to create a one-stop shopping mall in Victoria Falls.

Entrepreneur Aaron Chinhara, through his House of Chinhara establishment, is planning the facility for the tourism capital city, Victoria Falls.

Construction is set to start in 2022.

Chinhara has made a name for himself in the fuel industry.

The facility is to change the face of Victoria Falls, according to the proprietors, Glow Petroleum.

House of Chinhara is Glow’s sister company.

“As an operator we want to make the country beautiful by creating beautiful things,” Chinhara said.

“Through our House of Chinhara, a tourism entity that we have created, two projects will start next year in Victoria Falls. I want to think these projects are going to change the face of Victoria Falls because its huge investments.”

He said the Victoria Falls community must “keep its eyes open for another spectacular or two projects, which are on spectacular standards.”

“They are coming to Victoria Falls in 2022 up to 2023. Surely we are not going to build hotels that are already in Victoria Falls, we must build hotels that are not here,” said Chinhara.

Victoria Falls is Zimbabwe’s tourism capital and the gateway into the country.

However, shortage of hotel rooms has been a cause for concern.

The city has a deficit of more than 2 500 rooms, according to the Zimbabwe Tourism Authority (ZTA).

There are also qualms about some of the facilities which do not meet world standards.

Government plans to make Victoria Falls its conference capital and is courting investors to build a convention centre with state-of-the-art facilities comprising five-star hotels, medical facilities, a theme park and motor race course.

The Victoria Falls City Council is also luring investors to build a US$250 million Civic Centre which it says will be in the model of the iconic Mandela Square in Johannesburg, South Africa.

This will include council offices, a hall for meetings and functions, a 5-star hotel, a shopping mall with restaurants and a theme park or city square.

Jacob Mudenda, the Speaker of Parliament, recently implored the government to speed up implementation of the Victoria Falls Integrated Master Plan so as to lure investors into the tourism destination.

Before the debilitating outbreak of the COVID-19, contribution of travel and tourism to Zimbabwe’s gross domestic product (GDP) was 6,5 percent.

Source: Latest 5-star hotel to change face of Vic Falls (16/11/21)