From WildZambezi November 2015 Newsletter
The new international airport at Victoria Falls is now open, and set to bring huge changes to the resort town, positioning the area as a tourism hub for the SADC region. Negotiations are already underway for several large international airlines to fly in directly.
Zimbabwe’s Minister of Tourism, The Hon Walter Mzembi told an Investment Tourism Summit in South Africa recently that “The time has come to ‘modernise’ the Victoria Falls to attract a younger generation traveller to the World Heritage Site.”
According to Mzembi the plans include an integrated tourism resort in Victoria Falls, and development of the world’s first ever ‘eco-Disneyland’. On the cards are an international convention centre, hotels, shopping malls, presidential villas and a medical tourism park centre.
“We want to establish a big international convention centre, which must seat 10 000 delegates,” said Mzembi. He stressed, however, that the development would not desecrate the World Heritage status of the Victoria Falls in any way and that the development would be outside the perimeter. “The Victoria Falls will remain as virgin as when they were first discovered in the 1800s.”
The Zimbabwean government is also apparently looking into developing an international finance centre, allowing people to do their offshore banking in Victoria Falls, as opposed to Mauritius or Hong Kong, according to Mzembi. He believes that these developments will also considerably increase the length of stay in the resort town from the current two to three nights to seven-night stays.
Prime land near the Victoria Falls has been set aside and made available for the development of these projects. But, the Zimbabwe government is still looking for private investors to make them a reality. There is also some concern within the wider tourism industry as to whether or not these plans are appropriate for Victoria Falls. Some believe it will detract from the Falls’ natural beauty, wildlife and scenery, which tourists come to Africa to experience.