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Tuesday 30 May 2023

7-star hotel for Vic Falls

VICTORIA Falls City Council has partnered with CBZ Bank and a Swiss developer to build a 7-star hotel in the resort city.

The city’s mayor Councillor Somvelo Dlamini told Chronicle that designs for the ambitious project have been done while a piece of land has been identified.

Work is now underway to finalise some internal processes at central Government and local authority levels.

No budget has been finalized yet as planning is ongoing, according to Cllr Dlamini, who was not at liberty to disclose details about the Swiss company and the partnership.

He, however, said the city was on a rapid development and growth trajectory in line with the country’s drive towards becoming an upper middle-income economy by 2030.

“There is a lot of development that is coming to the city and as we speak, we have partnered with CBZ and a Swiss company to come and build a 7-star hotel here in Victoria Falls.

“Plans are underway and once approved the project will kickstart and construction of the hotel will begin,” said the Mayor.

He said land was identified behind Victoria Falls Hotel, between the railway line and Zambezi River gorges. At the moment, Victoria Falls, which is Zimbabwe’s tourism capital has only two 5-star hotels.

This comes as Cabinet recently approved the implementation of the Masuwe Special Economic Zone (SEZ) project, which will have state-of-the-art facilities, including 5-star hotel and conference sfacilities, following a feasibility study that found the scheme to be highly profitable.

The Mosi-oa-Tunya Development Company was tasked with implementation of the Masuwe SEZ project. The Cabinet approval has paved way for implementation of the Masuwe SEZ project, which Environment, Climate, Tourism and Hospitality Industry Minister Nqobizitha Mangaliso Ndlovu has said needs to be speedily actioned since a consultant had been engaged.>

In terms of Masuwe city scope, Government earmarks to have a multi-million dollar 4-star hotel, a 5 000-seater conference centre, medical centre, a golf estate and shopping mall.

Tourism players have said Zimbabwe, Victoria Falls in particular, faces a critical shortage of rooms and conferencing facilities, which presents a low-hanging fruit for investment.

Since the coming in of the Second Republic, significant developments have been made in tourism infrastructure through partnerships, with a number of hotels and lodges having been built. However, a majority of them have less than 100 rooms each.>

Cllr Dlamini said besides creating employment for locals, the project will change the face of the city. He was speaking soon after a recent tour of the Victoria Falls Hospital by the Ministry of Health and Child Care and said the city needs modern infrastructure to attract investors.

“There is a piece of land that has been identified for this hotel and plans are underway. Once approved by Cabinet they will come to council. Designs have been done and have been shown to us as we wait for approval by the department of planning,” said Clr Dlamini.

“For now, we don’t have figures yet because we are still on the planning stages. So, we are going to engage the investor and then engage Government,” he said.

Tourism is one of the key economic drivers in the country alongside mining, agriculture, and manufacturing, and infrastructure development in the sectors is one of the crucial elements as the Government implements the National Development Strategy (NDS1), which builds momentum towards towards Vision 2030. — @ncubeleon

Source: 7-star hotel for Vic Falls (30 May 2023)

Saturday 6 May 2023

Tourism revival exposes Zimbabwe accommodation crisis

 VICTORIA FALLS, (CAJ News) – THE policy by Zimbabwe to attract international conferences to boost tourism is proving a double-edged sword.

While the Meetings, Incentives, Conference and Exhibitions (MICE) policy is bearing fruit, the country’s tourism sector is struggling to meet demand, especially for accommodation.

Last week’s Transform Africa Summit, held in Victoria Falls exposed the deficit.

Around 4 000 delegates from close to 100 countries attended. These included five heads of state and 44 ministers.

The summit ended on Friday, which coincided with the start of the Victoria Falls Carnival, also attracting thousands.

Having several heads of state at the same time in the city proved a challenge in terms of availability of presidential lodgings.

As a result, host president, Emmerson Mnangagwa, and Paul Kagame of Rwanda flew back to Zimbabwe’s capital Harare soon after officiating. Hakainde Hichilema of Zambia drove to Livingstone in his country.

Only Lazarus Chakwera of Malawi and Eswatini’s King Mswati III spent the night in Victoria Falls.

The 4 000 delegates could also not be accommodated in mainstream hotels and lodges. Spillovers especially locals sought accommodation in private homes as shortage of hotel rooms exposed the need to invest in hotel facilities.

Despite being Zimbabwe’s tourism capital and one of the Seven Natural Wonders of the World, Victoria Falls only has two five-star hotels, namely the Victoria Falls Hotel and Palm River Hotel.

Zimbabwe has a total room capacity of just over 6 000 rooms. Victoria Falls has around 2 000 rooms.

Hospitality authorities have said the country needs an estimated 20 000 rooms by 2030 to match tourism growth.

There is also a shortage of conference facilities in Victoria Falls. The biggest conference room at Elephant Hills Hotel takes less than 600 people.

The exit of Kingdom Hotel early in the year exposed the city as the casino conference centre at the facility was the biggest in the city, taking 900 guests.

Farai Chimba, the Hospitality Association of Zimbabwe (HAZ) president, said, “Zimbabwe has a huge deficit of rooms. Current stock remains very low.”

Winnie Muchanyuka, Zimbabwe Tourism Authority (ZTA) chief executive, also expressed concern about the lack of big conference facilities.

Environment, Climate, Tourism and Hospitality Industry Minister, Nqobizitha Mangaliso Ndlovu, said the government is encouraging the private sector to invest in tourism infrastructure.

“We can only see a shortage of rooms in the country and here in Victoria Falls when there is demand for those rooms,” Ndlovu said.

“We need to have a discussion with industry and see how we can increase the number of rooms we are looking at, especially the increasing number of international business conferences that are coming into Zimbabwe and more importantly into Victoria Falls,” Ndlovu added.

Despite the challenge of facilities, the minister welcomed the revival of the MICE sector.

“Zimbabwe is fast becoming a conference destination of choice both locally and internationally,” Ndlovu said.

Source: Tourism revival exposes Zimbabwe accommodation crisis (05/05/23)

Monday 1 May 2023

Mnangagwa ally suffers another Victoria Falls blow

 A bid by one of President Emmerson Mnangagwa's allies to evict a leading tour operator in Victoria Falls suffered another setback after the local municipality withdrew his offer letter for a prime piece of land.

Councillors voted against the bid by Scott Sakupwanya, a gold dealer, to evict Wild Horizons from its leased property to pave way for the construction of a US$50 million luxury hotel.

Wild Horizons has been operating in the area for three decades and holds rights to the land until 2029.

According to reports, it is not clear how much Sakupwanya, through his Betterbrands company had offered for the land.

Reports say land prices in the resort town rocketed after it was declared an international financial centre about a decade ago.

In December 2020, it was also granted city status.

In a letter addressed to Wild Horizons dated April 19, Victoria Falls town clerk Ronnie Dube said the local authority was withdrawing its earlier plans to evict the company.

"Further to my letter to you dated 30 December 2022 and the subsequent letter dated February 1, 2023, council in committee No.26 on April 3, 2023 resolved that the letter written by the town clerk on December 30, 2022 be withdrawn," the letter reads.

The letter is titled: Withdrawal of notice to relocate the Jetty site from Stand 1392 A to part of the Boat Club.

On December 30 last year, Dube had allegedly unilaterally directed Wild Horizons to vacate the land.

He said the council had decided to repurpose the area.

His move subsequently triggered a fierce dispute between the local authority and Wild Horizons.

Wild Horizons argued that it had the right of first refusal on any sale of the land, according to documents seen by Zimbabwe Independent.

Sakupwanya did not respond to questions on whether BetterBrands would seek an alternative piece of land.

This is not the first time that Dube has been accused of acting unilaterally in important matters relating to public assets.

The property in question sits on over nine hectares and is believed to be worth millions of United States dollars.

Wild Horizons operates a lucrative boat lending business.