Footsteps Through Time

Footsteps Through Time
A History of Travel and Tourism to the Victoria Falls - www.zambezibookcompany.com

Tuesday, 31 January 2012

Zimbabwe tourism continues to grow

The investment of US$2.7m in a new luxury room block by Victoria Falls Safari Lodge is but one of many positive indicators that Zimbabwe tourism is on a steady revival path after a faltering past decade. Said Ross Kennedy, Chief Executive of Africa Albida Tourism (AAT), “there was a perceptible momentum in changing fortunes in 2011, backed by hard statistics, and 2012 has seen that pace quicken with “good news” stories coming in a steady stream”. Africa Albida Tourism has put its money where its mouth is by embarking on the construction of an exclusive new 20-room wing, the Victoria Falls Safari Club, and will also spend $300,000 on refashioning the public areas of the existing award-winning lodge.
Kennedy highlighted other good news stories coming out of Zimbabwe:
- A number of industry players in Victoria Falls are also showing their confidence in the industry by undertaking similar projects to cope with the international upswing. The Victoria Falls Airport is being modernised and enlarged and the runway is being lengthened to 4km to cope with bigger aircraft in anticipation of greatly increased numbers. A number of international airlines are reported to be in discussions with Civil Aviation Authority of Zimbabwe (CAAZ) concerning direct long haul access to Victoria Falls.
- Emirates has commenced its five-times-a-week schedule from Dubai to Harare via Lusaka to open up the Middle East to Zimbabwe for the first time and load factors are high.
- The World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO) has enthusiastically endorsed Victoria Falls for its global summit in 2013, expected to draw 3,000 delegates and spouses from 158 countries across an 8-day programme between August 23 and September 02, 2013.
- The African Travel Association (ATA) has followed suit and will stage its conference for up to 600 delegates at Victoria Falls from 18 to 22 May this year.
- A modern conference centre and tourism “plaza” is to be constructed at Victoria Falls to lure international association events and is scheduled to be complete by August 2013.
- South African Airways (SAA) has dramatically increased its capacity to Zimbabwe by 66% by introducing a daily A330-200 flight (222-seats) from Johannesburg to Harare and more seats to Victoria Falls. SAA’s monthly capacity is now touching 70,000 as a sure sign of resurgence for tourism.
- Air Namibia are reported to be launching a four-times-a-week schedule from Windhoek to Harare in April.
- A local airline SolAir has been licensed by CAAZ and is set to announce domestic routes soon using a 90-seater Beechcraft.
It’s still a way off the heady days of 1995 but the New York Times recently rated Zimbabwe as one of three fast-emerging and worthy destinations. “Zimbabwe was once a thriving tourism magnet,” recalled the NYT, “but now the unity government, relative economic stability, brought about by the adoption of American dollars, is generating cautious optimism.”
In 2011 tourism earnings increased by almost 50% to 2.3 million visitors and that renaissance is continuing this year. The Adventure Travel Trade Association (ATTA, USA) a significant global organisation headquartered in America has issued a January 2012 report to its members that shines a positive light on Zimbabwe.
“Should the positive upward trend of international tourists continue then the future of tourism in Zimbabwe in 2012 looks bright,” said ATTA, USA. “The year 2011 showed a marked improvement in fortunes with seven of the main lodges/hotels in Victoria Falls reporting one seven-month period as their best since 1999”.
Kennedy added that these statistics were all the more impressive “because they were not driven by low rates but are rather based on revenue per room available (RevPar) which would be the envy of many regional competitors in the current tough world economic environment.”
In 2011 most hotels in the Victoria Falls region recorded increased occupancies. Arrivals into Victoria Falls grew by 19.6% in 2011 versus 2010, with growth from existing markets, plus increased interest and arrivals from new markets such as Eastern Europe, Middle East and Asia. AAT’s flagship accommodation establishment, Victoria Falls Safari Lodge, had the best July occupancy for 10 years in 2011 at 70%. At the group’s award-winning Boma – Place of Eating restaurant located on the same resort, only July 2007 had better covers with 183 covers per night, and July 2011 delivering 163 covers per night.
Arrivals in other parts of Zimbabwe are also growing. Sharon Stead, Marketing Director and co-owner of The Amalinda Collection reports enthusiastically on Ivory Lodge in Hwange and Camp Amalinda in the Matobo Hills. “Camp Amalinda had a record year in 2011 achieving 75% occupancy, with June 2012 already sitting at 90%! Ivory Lodge, Hwange recorded its best month ever in August 2011 at 87% and 2012 bookings look set to break all previous occupancy records for the Lodge”. Stead added “Together with many other Hwange lodge owners and operators, we are well advanced on the launch of a Hwange destination marketing campaign, to be known as the Herd of Hwange which will be formally launched at Indaba in May. This will help to re-establish Hwange as one of the jewels of Africa’s wildlife sanctuaries”.
With the introduction in 2009 of the American dollar as the base currency and a process of reconciliation currently underway, Zimbabwe is fast becoming a viable and popular holiday destination for tourists. And it’s no surprise – with a wealth of natural treasures, including the magnificent Victoria Falls, luxurious and affordable safari and hotel accommodation all serviced by reputedly the most hospitable people in Africa, Zimbabwe has so much to offer local and international visitors. People, culture, history, monuments, wildlife, art, sport – Zimbabwe has it all!
Over the past three years a relative calm has returned to Zimbabwe’s economy and according to the influential tourism body, World Travel & Tourism Council, Zimbabwe’s tourism economy is set to grow at 9.2% this year, making it the third fastest growing tourism economy in the world. And with political goodwill in place to foster a more stable future for the country, more visitors are predicted to make their way to Zimbabwe, reclaiming the country’s reputation as the pride of Africa.
Zimbabwe tourism continues to grow ()

















VICTORIA FALLS BUNGEE INCIDENT - FOLLOW UP

Go to Victoria Falls have received the following update from Victoria Falls Bungee, in response to the bridge incident on 31 December 2011. This follows the official statement released on 2 January 2012.

We remain in contact with the Australian lady involved in the incident who is recuperating in South Africa where she has received expert medical attention. We are pleased to advise that she has now been released from hospital and although she remains bruised and sore she will shortly be free to return home to Australia.

As a matter of record we wish to highlight her bravery and survival skills, which contributed significantly to her own rescue and her continued positive disposition and strength of character has been an inspiration to us all.

It goes without saying that we deeply regret the incident, which has come as a huge shock to us. Despite the experience of the crew and parameters and procedures, which have successfully guided the operation for 17 years and over 150,000 jumpers, we were unable to prevent this accident. We take this exceptionally seriously and our objective now is to learn from this incident and review every component part of our operation to determine where we can further minimize the risk of bungee jumping from the Victoria Falls Bridge.

To this effect the following preliminary measures have been implemented:

- We have removed all bungee cords from the system, which were made with the same batch of rubber as that used to make the failed cord. These have been retained for further testing.
- An entirely new set of bungee cords have been installed on the system. These have been extensively load tested and inspected thoroughly and we are satisfied that they are safe to jump on.
- The entire bungee system has been thoroughly inspected and checked and we are fully confident that everything is safe to jump on.
- In addition to our normal checks and procedures we have instigated additional daily and intermittent checks on the bungee cords and we are fully satisfied that these checks and procedures are more than sufficient to ensure our clients safety.
- Our own crew are conducting test jumps before the commencement of daily operations and throughout the day.
- Experts in South Africa have been contacted and we expect them to be on site next week to help us with our ongoing investigations as to the cause of the incident.
- The broken cord has been carefully stored and will shortly be sent to South Africa for forensic testing.
- A qualified river guide with first aid certification and necessary safety and recovery equipment will be positioned in the gorge below the bridge.
- In light of the above Victoria Falls Bungee are entirely satisfied that everything humanly possible has been done to ensure the safety of our clients and bungee jumping operations have now recommenced without further incident.

Source: VICTORIA FALLS BUNGEE INCIDENT - FOLLOW UP (Jan 2012)












Sunday, 15 January 2012

Australian woman Erin Langworthy survives 111m bungee fall into the Zambezi River

AN Australian tourist survived a 111m fall into a crocodile-infested river after her bungee cord snapped.
Erin Langworthy, 22, plunged into the Zambezi River, which divides Zambia and Zimbabwe, on December 31. The West Australian woman fell headfirst into the river after the jump with Safari Par Excellence.
Describing her survival as a "miracle", she told Channel 9 she blacked out as she hit the water.
"It felt like I had been slapped all over," she said. After hitting the water she started swimming downstream but her bungee cord became snagged on rocks.
"I actually had to swim down to yank the bungee cord out of what it was caught in," she said.
When she made it to rocks, her rescuers rolled her on her back.
"All the water I inhaled meant I couldn't breathe and I made them roll me on to my side and that's when I started coughing up water and blood."
The Safari Par Excellence website says the bungee experience is "111 metres of pure adrenalin!".
"Based on The Victoria Falls Bridge, the Bungi (sic) jump can certainly be classed as the most scenic in the world. Not for the faint hearted!" the website says.
Zambia's Southern Province police commissioner Brenda Muntemba said Ms Langworthy was treated at Victoria Falls clinic in Zimbabwe and evacuated to South Africa.

Saturday, 14 January 2012

Minister bungee-jumps from Victoria Falls to prove it is safe

Zambia's tourism minister bungee-jumped from Victoria Falls to reassure tourists the activity is safe after an Aussie backpacker's rope snapped last week.
Given Lubinda took the plunge after footage of Australian backpacker Erin Langworthy falling into the Zambezi River was shown around the world last week, the Daily Mail reports.
Langworthy survived, despite falling head-first into the rapids when her bungee cord snapped as she leaped from the 111m-high bridge on New Year's Eve.
Mr Lubinda said he remained convinced the accident was a one-off and the attraction was safe.
Speaking after completing the jump yesterday, the Mr Lubinda said "I myself will be engaging the operator on how we can make this exciting tourism event become totally incident-free."
Mr Lubinda's display of confidence in the jump came as its operator confirmed Ms Langworthy's snapped rope had been sent to South Africa to be tested by experts.
Mike Davies, boss of the Safari Par Excellence travel company which reportedly organised her jump, said the incident was a "one off" and added that a full investigation had been launched.
He told New Zimbabwe: "There have been over 150,000 people jumping over the last 17 years without incident. So we are confident in it."
He said a team of experts had been brought in to look at improving safety on the attraction, and added: "We have replaced all the equipment, all the ropes and the elastics in the meantime."
Describing her survival as a "miracle", Ms Langworthy told Channel 9 she blacked out as she hit the water.
"It felt like I had been slapped all over," she said. After hitting the water she started swimming downstream but her bungee cord became snagged on rocks.
"I actually had to swim down to yank the bungee cord out of what it was caught in," she said.
When she made it to rocks, her rescuers rolled her on her back.
"All the water I inhaled meant I couldn't breathe and I made them roll me on to my side and that's when I started coughing up water and blood."
The Safari Par Excellence website says the bungee experience is "111m of pure adrenalin!".
"Based on The Victoria Falls Bridge, the Bungi (sic) jump can certainly be classed as the most scenic in the world. Not for the faint hearted!" the website says.