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Monday 13 May 2024

Authorities fail to notify UNESCO of new developments at Victoria Falls

Keep Victoria Falls Wild, (13th May 2024)

The managing authorities for the Mosi-oa-Tunya/Victoria Falls World Heritage Site have failed to notify UNESCO of recent and proposed tourism developments affecting the Site in their latest State of Conservation report (available to download from the UNESCO website here, direct pdf download here.

The report, submitted to UNESCO by the Zimbabwe Parks and Wildlife Management Authority and the National Heritage Conservation Commission (Zambia), fails to disclose the commencement of tours to Cataract Island (launched in April 2022), the construction of the Baines Riverside Restaurant (opened in mid-2023), the development of the Zambezi Drive 'Rock Pool' bar (also established during 2023) and proposed development of a Riverside Tree Lodge complex along a extensive section of the river, first announced by developers in 2019.

These significant developments are located all along the ecologically vulnerable upstream riverside fringe on the southern, Zimbabwean, side of the river and within the Highly Ecologically Sensitive Zone (HESZ) of the World Heritage Site (as designated within the 2007 and 2016 Joint Integrated Management Plans agreed by both managing authorities and UNESCO) and which supposedly prohibits all new development.

As part of their requirements under the World Heritage Listing the managing authorities are required to disclose all proposals which could potentially affect the Site to UNESCO for review in advance of their development. The failure to disclose these developments, which have caused widespread negative reaction and even resulted in a legal challenge from a group of concerned local residents, represents the latest attempt to deceive UNESCO over the status of tourism developments at the site, following a history of misreporting and misrepresentation of developments at the Site.

Victoria Falls tourism developments

Map showing area of the Mosi-oa-Tunya/Victoria Falls World Heritage Site and location of recent and proposed developments.

Read more on the wave of tourism developments which currently threaten the Victoria Falls World Heritage Site on the Keep Victoria Falls Wild website and follow us on Facebook for latest updates.

Download the Keep Victoria Falls Wild 2023 State of Development Report for background and further information: Keep Victoria Falls Wild 2023 State of Development Report.

See also: Zimbabwe Government plans to develop Victoria Falls ignore impacts on World Heritage Site (22/05/24)

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