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Friday 30 September 2022

Victoria Falls Hotel in US$4.5m upgrade

Hospitality groups, African Sun and Meikles have jointly invested US$4,5 million towards refurbishment of the Victoria Falls Hotel.

This comes as the sector is on a recovery path following the challenges experienced after the outbreak of the Covid-19 pandemic which affected global economies.

The tourism and hospitality sector was one of the hardest hit by the pandemic which resulted in operators temporarily closing some of their facilities as economies world over implemented lock down measures to limit the spread of the pandemic.

Recovery has so far been sustained mainly by the domestic market travellers with prospects high for growth from international markets following relaxation of travel restrictions globally.

“Our cash utilisation strategy remains unchanged, focusing mainly on targeted capital expenditure on hotel assets in order to enhance guest experience and to preserve value,” said African Sun chairman Emmanuel Fundira in an update on the group’s refurbishment initiatives.

“Earlier this month, we celebrated the highly anticipated completion of 47 rooms and kitchen refurbishment at the majestic five-star Victoria Falls Hotel, “the Grand Old Lady”.

“The group, together with our partner Meikles Limited, invested over US$4,5 million towards the refurbishment of this property,” he said.

In anticipation of the growth in international arrivals, hospitality groups have also resorted to refurbish their facilities to improve ambience and position themselves for the anticipated tourism rebound.

African Sun has further committed additional millions of dollars this current financial year, towards sprucing the image of its other hotels.

At Troutbeck Resort alone, an investment of US$1,8 million is expected to be made towards refurbishment works which commenced during the past financial year.

The refurbishment, which commenced in 2021 with a complete roof makeover, is expected to be concluded in 2022 when the hotel’s 100 rooms are refurbished.

According to the group, preparatory work to carry out the refurbishment of eight additional rooms at Great Zimbabwe Hotel and remedial works on the Hungwe Conference Centre are at an advanced stage, with actual works scheduled to commence in the second quarter of 2022.

Plans are also currently underway to refurbish rooms at Hwange Safari Lodge with mock-up rooms having been started. The first phase of the project, which targets 60 rooms, is expected to be completed in 2022.

The tourism and hospitality sector has been identified as one of the low hanging fruits expected to significantly contribute towards the economy and turn it into an upper middle class economy by 2030.

Source: Victoria Falls Hotel in US$4.5m upgrade (29/09/22)

Thursday 22 September 2022

Ministry works on US$5bn tourism economy

Tourism is one of the critical sectors of the economy with great potential to turn around the economy, Minister of Environment, Climate, Tourism and Hospitality Industry Mangaliso Ndlovu said yesterday.

Speaking at the Ministry’s strategic planning workshop in Bvumba, Minister Ndlovu said tourism was a low hanging fruit characterised by foreign currency earnings, employment creation and community empowerment.

So people must guard the sector and ensure that they continue to grow its size for the benefit of the nation at large.

“Government remains committed to play its supportive and facilitatory role to stimulate and boost the growth of the tourism sector.

“As we carry out our business, let us be mindful of the fact that we have a target to achieve, that is the US$5 billion tourism economy by 2025.

“It is my hope that, as we are emerging from the devastating Covid-19 pandemic, we have taken a closer look at the national tourism recovery and growth strategy to assess our targets, our strategies, and that we are identifying areas that need more emphasis for us to meet and possibly surpass the initial targets,” Minister Ndlovu said.

Tracking performance was critical and those in the industry needed to know where they were falling short and work with all stakeholders to institute remedial measures.

Minister Ndlovu said there was also a need for quarterly review of the performance of the strategy to ensure set targets are met, as identified.

“I am happy that the tourism sector is now on a growth trajectory due to the relaxation of Covid-19 induced travel restrictions and lockdowns, and the opening of doors for both domestic and international travel,” he said.

“Let us take advantage of this phase to work with all stakeholders to design and offer competitive products and services in order to attract more tourists to Zimbabwe. In this vein, we need to increase impetus on our programme of identifying and exposing tourism potential across the country, and at the same time meeting our stakeholders.

“During the first half of 2022, the tourism sector registered a 115 percent rise in tourist arrivals to 352 719 compared with the same period in 2021 where the international arrivals received were 164 062. The tourist receipts also increased by 121 percent in 2022 to US$337,5 million compared to US$152,8 million in 2021.”

Minister Ndlovu said domestic entries into national parks rose 90 percent from 90 909 in 2021 to 172 481 during the period January to May this year.

A 79 percent increase in new investments was also registered this year with a total of US$96,5 million recorded.

Source: Ministry works on US$5bn tourism economy (22/09/22)

Monday 12 September 2022

Bush meat poachers target Vic Falls wildlife

The Victoria Falls Anti-Poaching Unit (VFAPU) said animals such as warthogs that used to roam the city were now hard to come by because they were killed by poachers, who use snares.

“Due to Covid-19 mainly, many of the resident warthogs within the town of Victoria Falls have been poached,” VFAPU said.

“(In April), one of the surviving families (four of them) ventured into the bush by CHOGM (Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting) park and sadly three of them were snared.

“Thank you to concerned residents of Victoria Falls who had heard the warthogs squealing, for chasing off the poacher, who had already butchered one of the pigs.”

VFAPU said between January and April, it apprehended 59 suspected poachers around Victoria Falls.

The anti-poaching unit removed 163 snares and another 309 snares were identified by Zambezi Horse Safaris.

During the period, 28 snared animals were rescued.

Trevor Lane, founder of Bhejane Trust, a non-profit organisation that seeks to protect wild animals in the region, said the snaring of animals by poachers had become a cause for concern.

“The issue of snaring is a major concern to us,” Lane said.

“The poachers take advantage of small fines where one can get a suspended sentence and community service or fine.

“Although we appreciate what the courts are handling cases according to the law, we believe that the sentences should be tougher in order to send a message because the issue around these crimes is that the offenders will be doing it for commercial purposes.”

Employers Association for Tours and Safari Operators president Clement Mukwasi said the decimation of wild animals in Victoria Falls was now seriously affecting their business.

“Covid-19 exposed many wild animals in our nearby parks and around town to poaching because continued lockdowns meant that there was no monitoring of activities around wildlife crimes and due to massive job losses in the industry, people opted for self-help as streams of income diminished,” Mukwasi said.

“Wildlife around town has become part of our lifestyle and visitors enjoy that urban-wilderness feeling in harmony with nature and through our bush game drives in areas such as the Zambezi National Park and with poaching in these areas, it means that there is reduced variety of animals for one to view.

“We wouldn’t want to find ourselves in a situation where this continues happening as it kills our tourism.”

The snaring of wild animals is also affecting villagers living on the outskirts of Victoria Falls as their livestock gets caught by the snares.

Lifa Nekatambe from Monde village, which is located about 15 kilometres from Victoria Falls said he had lost livestock because of snares set up by poachers.

“In May, two of my calves were snared and killed while in November last year, one of my bulls was severely injured from the neck when poachers put snares at Masuwe River where our animals drink from,” Nekatambe said.

“The pain these poachers have inflicted on is too much and they are hardly known, but we understand that these are criminals who will be targeting wild animals and it keeps worsening,”

In February this year, Clemence Ncube, a Victoria Falls council employee was arrested and taken to court for running over a warthog with his vehicle before skinning it.

At the time, prosecutors said he hit the animal at the Aerodrome area and skinned it at his Chinotimba residency.

He was convicted on his own plea of guilt and fined $20 000 in local currency.

Source:  Bush meat poachers target Vic Falls wildlife (11/09/22)