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Monday 23 January 2023

Sunset cruise becomes flagship activity in Victoria Falls

THE sunset cruise has become one of the leading tourist activities in the resort city of Victoria Falls with 90 percent of the domestic and international tourists going for the activity, a tour operator has revealed.

Victoria Falls boasts of numerous adventure, water activities, day trips, and game drive activities that complement one of the seven wonders of the world; the majestic Victoria Falls. Employers Association of Tour and Safari Operators president, who is also Shearwater Adventures public relations manager Mr Clement Mukwasi said the sunset cruise has been one of the most subscribed activities in Victoria Falls.

“The sunset cruise has become a flagship activity for Victoria Falls. About 90 percent of people who come into Victoria Falls do the sunset cruise and 100 percent of those that sleep over in Victoria Falls actually do the sunset cruise,” said Mr Mukwasi.

He said one of the major reasons why people want to do the sunset cruise is because of the natural environment that they find themselves in, giving them time to harmonise with nature.

“The water body is unpolluted; they are no buildings that are along the river. The activity itself which is a two-hour activity has actually become very popular among not only the international tourists but also the domestic tourists,” said Mr Mukwasi.

An estimated 40 boat cruises are operated by different tour operators along the Zambezi River. The sunset cruise accommodates all age groups, an attribute that Mr Mukwasi believes could be one of the attracting factors.

“It accommodates the youngest people of any group, be it a one-year-old or less, be it an elderly person they are able to do the sunset cruise. This could be the reason why it has appealed more to every spectrum across the tourist social divide. We have actually seen that because of its price levels everybody wants to do the sunset cruise,” said Mr Mukwasi.

The Zambezi River has got several boats on the river and these are operated both on the Zimbabwean and Zambian sides.

Mr Mukwasi said the activity has become one of the survival activities that has helped to take the tourism industry spring back to life.

“The sunset cruise can only compete with entry into the rain forest. After the entry into the falls the second and the most popular activity then becomes the sunset cruise so you actually would realise that the surge levels of the sunset cruise in Victoria Falls are actually very high it has actually a touch between the tourist and the guides.

“There is also an educational element to the people who actually do the activity. Remember the activity is done on the Zambezi River on the upper part of the falls. It is one and a half kilometres above the main falls so one can actually see the steam from the sunset cruise, you can see the steam of falls from where the activity actually occurs,” said Mr Mukwasi.

The Zambezi River is the fourth longest river in Africa after the Naija, the Nile and Congo. That makes cruise legendary activities because of the place where it is being done. — @nyeve14.

Sourece: Sunset cruise becomes flagship activity in Victoria Falls (22/01/23)

Thursday 12 January 2023

Tourism sector attracts US$300m investment

ABOUT US$300 million was invested in the tourism sector last year, an official said, putting the industry badly affected by coronavirus on a solid footing.

The money was largely spent on the construction of new hospitality facilities such as lodges and hotels as well as renovations, Zimbabwe Tourism Authority (ZTA) chief executive, Ms Winnie Muchanyuka, told the Zimbabwe Broadcasting Corporation (ZBC) recently.

The investment, from both foreign and local investors, was largely concentrated in Victoria Falls and Ganarezhou National Park, she said.

“A total of US$300 million was poured in the sector with new facilities in restaurants, hotels, lodges, safaris and game parks dominating,” Ms Muchanyuka.

The ban on travel and public conferences significantly suffocated the global tourism industry and in 2020, international arrivals plunged by 73 percent from pre-pandemic levels in 2019, causing estimated losses of US$2,4 trillion in tourism and related sectors, according to the report by the UN’s World Tourism Organisation.

However, the industry is recovering from the effects of the pandemic after many countries eased the restrictions.

Tourism Business Council (TBC) chairman, Mr Paul Matamisa, said there had been “huge” investment in the sector as operators prepare for the anticipated post-Covid-19 boom.

“We surely have seen a number of investments in the sector; be it new resorts or the upgrade of the existing facilities in order to stay abreast with the current trends,” he said.

“We have seen new lodges around the country and many game parks have been upgraded.

This week, a 40-roomed Insika Lodge in Victoria Falls will officially open. According to media reports, the ZESA Pension Fund is currently building a four– star hotel and a conference centre in the resort town and will be run by Cresta Hotels.

Chairman of the Hospitality Association of Zimbabwe (HAZ) Matabeleland North chapter, Mr Anald Musonza, confirmed the province saw substantial investments last year.

“The region has been on a recovery path and yes, I can confirm that a lot of investment happened in the just ended year. I cannot quantify the amount but building a four or five-star lodge is no small feat and it is not cheap as well,” said Mr Musonza.

The long-planned, multi-million-dollar refurbishment of Harare’s five-star Meikles Hotel commenced last year.

Meikles Hotel general manager, Mr Tinashe Munjoma, said the three-phased programme to carry out a major redevelopment of selected key areas was ongoing.

The Government expects the tourism industry to continue growing in the outlook, benefiting from the recovery in international tourism, coming in of new players in the aviation sector and meetings, incentives, conferences and exhibitions (MICE).

Tourists’ arrivals are expected to increase to 1,4 million in 2023, while tourism receipts are projected at US$623 million. This year, the Government is planning to enhance marketing and promotion efforts through the deployment of tourism attach├ęs at embassies to aggressively promote the country in key source markets such as China, France, Germany, India, Japan, South Africa, UAE, the UK and the US.

The deployment of attach├ęs will be complemented by active participation at flagship regional and international tourism meetings, conferences and exhibitions, marketing and promoting Zimbabwe’s tourism to the world through campaign programmes like VisitZimbabwe, MeetInZimbabwe and InvestInZimbabwe.

The sector will also undertake image building and promotion through hosting of tourism opinion leaders and influencers, as well as organising familiarisation tours for media houses from key international source markets. Priority will also be towards intensifying marketing efforts across the various digital marketing platforms.

This is also in sync with the Government’s engagement and re-engagement thrust.

To sustain the resilience of the domestic tourism industry, Government will intensify domestic tourism through campaigns and promotions, such as ZimBho/IZimYami programmes.

Further, the 2023 Budget allocated $725 million towards the capitalisation of Mosi Oa Tunya Development Company Private Limited, a special purpose vehicle created to spearhead tourism infrastructure development in Victoria Falls, particularly focusing on off-site and on-site infrastructure for the Victoria Falls Special Economic Zone, that is expected to attract investors.

Source: Tourism sector attracts US$300m investment (11/01/23)

Saturday 7 January 2023

Ambitious Vic Falls tourism project awaits cabinet nod

 THE Cabinet will deliberate on a feasibility study report submitted under an ambitious deal inked between Mosi Oa Tunya Development  Company and Old Mutual Life Assurance Company setting the tone for the development of critical infrastructure in the tourist resort town of Victoria Falls.

The Mosi Oa Tunya Development Company, a special purpose vehicle (SPV) formed to expedite investments into the resort town, is part of wider measures under the country’s new National Tourism Recovery and Growth Strategy. It will be housed under the Ministry of Environment, Tourism and Hospitality Industry.

The two companies inked the deal last year as part of a broad blueprint meant to recalibrate Zimbabwe’s key leisure sector, seen by the government as one of the cornerstones of economic recovery.

Old Mutual recently demonstrated an appetite to unlock opportunities in Zimbabwe’s resource-rich north-western region by investing in solar generation and hospitality properties.

Mosi Oa Tunya Development Company chief executive officer Gabriel Mapondera said a feasibility study was done and a final report has since been submitted to the Cabinet,

“The feasibility study was undertaken and validation workshop was conducted and validation of the findings was done.  We then came up with the final feasibility study report that was submitted to Cabinet and is yet to be adopted,” he said.

“The idea is that once the report is adopted by the principal then we will start undertaking subdivision diagrams as informed by the feasibility study findings.”

Mosi Oa Tunya Development Company was allocated 271 hectares of prime land earmarked for tourism development in Victoria Falls.

Zimbabwe is exploring investment partnerships for the Victoria Falls tourism SEZ (special economic zone), and other areas covering the 10 provinces. Victoria Falls town has prime land for tourism development by the government.

The title deeds for this land have since been transferred to Mosi-Oa-Tunya Development Company.

Zimbabwe’s premium resort has been awarded SEZ status to inspire economic growth and development through stimulating local, foreign and diaspora investments.

This development would take various forms, including infrastructure and high-technology initiatives, meant to improve the tourism industry.

The strategy is to make Victoria Falls a tourism and financial services capital.

Victoria Falls is one of the Seven Natural Wonders of the World and the major waterfall on the Zambezi River in Africa, and is famous for being the largest waterfall in the world, in the rainy season. Locals call the falls ‘Mosi-oa-Tunya’ which means the “smoke that thunders”.

Source: Ambitious Vic Falls tourism project awaits cabinet nod (06/01/23)

Monday 2 January 2023

ZimParks shelves Vic Falls entry fees increase following operators’ outcry

 VICTORIA Falls: Zimbabwe Parks and Wildlife Management Authority (ZimParks) has shelved the Rainforest entry fees increase that was set to begin next month and deferred the review to April.

Tourism operators had raised objection through the Tourism Business Council of Zimbabwe (TBCZ) over the lack of consultation.

They argued the short-notice increase had set players on a collision course with tourists who had received 2023 schedules and made advance payments.

ZimParks spokesperson, Tinashe Farawo, confirmed the increase had been put on hold.

“As Zimbabwe Parks and Wildlife Management Authority we would like to confirm the postponement of the increase in Rainforest entry fees,” he said.

“We were supposed to effect the increases on the 1st of January 2023 and after consulting players in the tourism industry we have agreed to postpone until the 1st of April.”

He said after consulting and considering that the country seeks to promote domestic tourism, ZimParks saw it prudent to allow easy access to the resort by locals upon payment of US$7 per person, which remains unchanged until April.

“So, the new charges for international tourists or regional tourists are going to be effected on the 1st of April 2023,” said Farawo, adding that wildlife management and conservation was being funded by tourism directly.

‘We are Victoria Falls Initiative’ coordinator, Shelley Cox, commended ZimParks for responding positively.

She said engagements among stakeholders will minimise any negative impact of the increase in fees and allow trade partners and travellers to understand some of the reasons behind the increases.

“While we await feedback on outstanding requests, it has been agreed that the Victoria Falls Destination Management partnership will work with all stakeholders to come up with an effective communication campaign strategy announcing the increases, which will be implemented in the second quarter of 2023,” she said.

The new fees schedule proposed by ZimParks will see locals paying US$10 to enter through the ordinary gate up from US$7 per person while Sadc and international clients will pay US$30 and US$50, up from US$20 and US$30 respectively.

To enter through the VIP gate, locals will pay US$30 per person, US$75 for SADC and US$150 for international clients.

Locals who want to tour the rainforest under the moonlight will be expected to part with US$15 per person while Sadc clients will pay US$70 and US$100 for international clients.

Visiting the Zambezi River will now cost US$5 for locals while SADC clients will pay US$12 and those from the international world paying US$15. Children above five years of age will pay half the adult fees.

Vehicles will be charged between US$5 for small cars and US$20 for buses and lorries while foreign-registered vehicles will pay US$30 each.

Source: ZimParks shelves Vic Falls entry fees increase following operators’ outcry (2/1/23)