Footsteps Through Time

Footsteps Through Time
A History of Travel and Tourism to the Victoria Falls -

Saturday, 12 August 2017

Victoria Falls applies for city status

Leonard Ncube, Victoria Falls Reporter

THE Victoria Falls Municipality has applied to Government for city status. The local authority was conferred municipal status in 1999.

Upon joining Victoria Falls early this year, Town Clerk Mr Ronnie Dube told The Chronicle that his vision was among others, to reduce the municipality’s spending and transform the resort town into a world class city.

“Part of our priority projects is to help the town attain city status this year,” he said in a recent interview.

Yesterday Mr Dube told The Chronicle that the municipality had applied to Government and was waiting for the Ministry of Local Government, Public Works and National Housing to send a commission.

“We have applied and we are yet to get a response. The Ministry has to send a commission to assess if we meet requirements upon which a recommendation will be made,” said Mr Dube.

He said the municipality fares better than a number of local authorities in the country.
Mr Dube said the resort town boasts of an efficient and reliable water supply as well as provision of serviced land for housing projects.

“We believe we are one of the local authorities that have complied with Government requirements for city status. This is evidenced in that we have just been voted second runner up on water supply and sewer management at the just ended Local Government Investment Conference (LOGIC 2017) hosted by the Urban Councils Association of Zimbabwe (UCAZ) in Harare,” said Mr Dube.

Hwange Local Board was the winner in the category as the two local authorities are implementing Water and Sanitation projects funded by the Industrial Development Bank of Zimbabwe.
Mr Dube said an advert flighted by the local authority on Thursday was in conformity with the application as they call on President Mugabe to exercise his powers in terms of Section 14 of the Urban Councils Act to establish Victoria Falls City.

Last month Victoria Falls commissioned 1 300 serviced high and medium housing stands in a partnership with CBZ and last week launched a $4 million low density project which will see a private developer, Integrated Construction Project, servicing 205 low density and commercial stands in the BB7 project.

As part of its master plan, the municipality will rehabilitate roads, install solar street lighting as well as come up with cost cutting strategies.

The town’s mayor, Councillor Sifiso Mpofu, last week invited industrialists to partner the local authority in developing multi-million dollar projects saying the town is embarking on a robust development drive which will help attain desired world class status. — @ncubeleon

Source: Victoria Falls applies for city status (12/08/17)

Friday, 11 August 2017

NRZ gets $400m lifeline

The State Procurement Board (SPB) has awarded a $400 million tender for the revival of the National Railways of Zimbabwe (NRZ) to a consortium comprising Transnet and the Diaspora Infrastructure Development Group, throwing a lifeline to the parastatal seen as a key enabler to economic revival.At least 88 companies across the globe bid for the resuscitation of NRZ, including eight from Britain and 16 from South Africa. The Herald is reliably informed that companies as far as China, Malaysia and the United Arab Emirates had also expressed interest in the deal.

Transport and Infrastructure Development Minister Dr Joram Gumbo confirmed the development in an interview with The Herald.

“It is true,” he said. “I am really excited. The National Railways of Zimbabwe is a very important key performance enabler to our economy. If you look at the movement of coal, mining products, agricultural produce and even passengers, it plays a critical role.

“When it is functioning well, it results in the preservation of our roads. Haulage trucks were damaging roads.”

Dr Gumbo thanked Government for taking over the NRZ debt, saying it opened the gates for investors, who all along were interested in the parastatal, but were uncomfortable with its indebtedness.

“When I made a request to warehouse the NRZ debt and Government agreed, I was relieved,” he said. “We got 88 bidders from Malaysia, United Arab Emirates, South Africa and Britain. The interest was high.

“I am happy SPB awarded this tender to indigenous people. Zimbabweans who have come up with own funding. If Zimbabweans who are outside the country could work together and come home and make a contribution like this to our country, I marvel at such developments. It is very good news for the country. NRZ used to employ many people.”

The other companies that were shortlisted included China Civil Engineering, Sino Hydro, Crowe Horwath & Welsa Chartered, SHM Railway of Malaysia and Croyeaux Ltd.

But the SPB awarded the $400 million NRZ capitalisation tender to a consortium comprising Transnet and the Diaspora Infrastructure Development Group (DIDG).

DIDG executive chairman Mr Donavan Chimhandamba, who is also the co-chair of the DIDG/Transnet Consortium confirmed the development last night.

He said they had since received communication from NRZ. “We will commence with contract negotiations as early as next week,” said Mr Chimhandamba. “We hope that within the next two months all agreements will be concluded and we can immediately commence with the major works.”

Mr Chimhandamba said DIDG and Transnet were venturing into the project as an equal partnership.
NRZ requires at least $400m recapitalisation, which include the procurement of new locomotives and resuscitation of infrastructure to increase its annual traffic volumes.

DIDG is made up of Zimbabweans in the diaspora who have pooled their financial resources. The company is made up of various economic technocrats based mainly in South Africa and overseas.

Mr Chimhandamba said they had a strong dedicated team of experts, with all the members having been involved in entrepreneurship and starting up a number of successful companies.

He said they had experience working with local, regional and international financial institutions.

Source: NRZ gets $400m lifeline (10/08/17)

Tuesday, 8 August 2017

Vic Falls pledges to service 2 000 residential stands by 2018

VICTORIA Falls Town Council has pledged to service 2 000 residential stands by 2018 to ease its housing backlog currently hovering around 15 000 units.
By Nokuthaba Dlamini
Town clerk, Ronnie Dube, made the commitment last Friday at the official handover of 120 stands for servicing by Integrated Construction Project.
“Victoria Falls is not exempt from effects of rural to urban migration that has seen its housing list soaring to 15 000,” he said.
“One of the goals of the Victoria Falls Municipality is to service and allocate 2 000 stands by 2018 and council is on the right track to achieve its goals. In this scheme, about 120 people have been allocated.”
Deputy mayor Noris Nyathi, said the new development complimented the government’s efforts to provide shelter for all.
“Victoria Falls Municipality continues to pursue its vision to be natural and competitive world class tourism destination and is providing affordable services to its community,” he said.
“I trust that the contractor will provide quality services, while maintaining the uniqueness and naturalness of the town.”
Residents have in the past accused council of not doing enough to reduce the housing backlog.
Last month, scores of Victoria Falls residents invaded a piece of land, and cleared it before allocating it to themselves arguing that it was allocated to them, in 2008 through co-operatives.
This was after the town entered into a $12 million partnership with CBZ Bank to service housing stands targeting low income earners.
They accused council of selling their land to CBZ.
However, CBZ officials told the residents during the commissioning of 1 300 stands that the land in the Mfelandawonye area had been returned to council.

Saturday, 5 August 2017

Vic Falls town seeks partners for 10,000-seater stadium

Leonard Ncube in Victoria Falls

VICTORIA Falls Municipality is looking for partners for the construction of a 10 000-seater multi-purpose stadium.

The local authority’s Mayor Sifiso Mpofu told industrialists attending the Confederation of Zimbabwe Industries (CZI) 2017 congress that the municipality had come up with a master plan which includes upgrading of facilities such as Chinotimba Stadium.

“Our master plan includes upgrading of facilities where we want to refurbish Chinotimba Stadium to have 10 000 seats,” said Mpofu.

Chinotimba Stadium hosts Division One soccer matches.

He said the multi-purpose stadium will house a soccer pitch, a triathlon track, discus, netball, volley ball, long and triple jump facilities.

The mayor said the local authority was looking for partners to build the facility on a build-operate and transfer arrangement.

This, he said, would see the resort town hosting international teams for their pre-season training and off-season practice as well as hosting international activities.

“The stadium would have change rooms, entrance (ticketing) and exit facilities as well as commercial facilities. We want this to be well branded with lighting, scoreboards, security fencing and walling as well as the caretaker’s house,” he said.

He also said the resort town’s local authority wants to court investors to further upgrade the disused swimming pool or build a new one to be able to host international events.

The old swimming pool is under refurbishment after being chosen under the United Nations World Tourism Organisation General Assembly legacy project concept.

The local authority also allocated land to Zimbabwe Cricket for construction of a 10 000 seater cricket stadium two years ago but the project has not taken off yet.

Source: 10 000-seater stadium: Vic-Falls seeks partners

Friday, 4 August 2017

Vic Falls business gets boost from airport expansion

THE expansion of the Victoria Falls International Airport has seen global arrivals increasing by 25 percent in the first half of this year, but industry players say there is need for government to ensure air access to other tourist destinations across the country.

The $150 million Chinese-funded expansion of the Victoria Falls International Airport, completed late last year, has seen more international airlines introducing flights into the resort town.

These include Kenya Airways and Ethiopian Airlines.

South African Airways introduced bigger aircraft on the route.

Kenya Airways, which introduced its flights in May, flies three times a week between Nairobi, Victoria Falls and Cape Town, while Ethiopian Airlines, which came on board later, flies four times a week into Victoria Falls on a route that also includes Gaborone.

“Victoria Falls remains key for us but we are also worried by the numbers into the Eastern Highlands, into Kariba. Accessibility is still an issue. The only way to get to those destinations is by road and there is a lot of work that needs to be done on the state of our roads,” said Zimbabwe Council of Tourism president, Tich Hwingwiri.

Currently, many of the country’s other tourist attractions rely on local tourism for 95 percent of their business because of lack of air access, while Victoria Falls gets 50 percent of its business from international tourists.

The new flights into Victoria Falls have provided a boost to the tourism sector, according to Africa Albida Tourism whose flagship property is the Victoria Falls Safari Lodge.

“There is significantly good news for the industry and for the country. We are starting to feel the impetus of the airport. Already we have a huge number of passenger seats, it’s over a 100 000 airline seats committed to come for the rest of the year,” said Dave Glynn, Africa Albida Tourism chairman.

“During the first six months of the year, international arrivals were up by 25,4 percent, which is really significant,” he said.

The four kilometre runway at the airport can land any wide bodied aircraft.

Glynn said the impact of the airport would be felt even outside the country’s borders.

“Once those volumes start to really arrive it will justify the linkages of the airlines going out from Victoria Falls. Victoria Falls will become a significant hub airport because of its new facilities. That means it will service the region as well as internal Zimbabwe destinations,” Glynn said.

At the moment internal tourism is suffering from lack of air linkages and poor infrastructure.
“You can’t get to Hwange, you can’t get to Kariba. You can’t get to the eastern highlands by air. Those linkages we are sure will come as the volumes rise as the air access increase,” Glynn said.

“What is of interest is that the international visitors increased by 15 percent last year but it wasn’t visible because the local industry had really diminished quite substantially and the reasons given in a survey (commissioned by government) included roadblocks, shortage of cash and difficult economic conditions.

“But the outlook is very strong for Victoria Falls driven by the airport which is a really visionary investment and decision by government,” Glynn said.

The airport was refurbished at a cost of $150 million and has a handling capacity of 1,5 million passengers annually.

Source: Vic Falls business gets boost from airport expansion (03/8/17)

Thursday, 3 August 2017

Communities can develop benefit from tourism products

Sydney Kawadza Senior Reporter, The Herald

In Rusape, St Theresa, in particular, Manicaland province, villagers talk of the Maninga Mountains – a range adding to the beautiful landscape occupying a unique place in the people’s hearts.

A part of Zimbabwe’s apocryphal tales, the Maninga Mountains’ rich history is pregnant with tales associated with the craftiness of the Maungwe people.

Various large caves make part of the Maninga range’s story as these ningas – caves running for kilometres and large enough to accommodate villagers, their livestock and food stocks for months.

These caves, believed to be bigger than the popular Chinhoyi Caves, were used in times of plenty to protect the yields. They acted as grain storage but also came in handy when the villagers hid in the caves from the marauding warriors who invaded these parts.

The ningas accommodated even the people’s livestock. Whether these stories are true or not, the caves are there and remain unexplored. No-one knows their true value, economically, both to the villagers and the tourism authorities in Zimbabwe.

The ningas, however, remain an interesting enigma. But how are these caves beneficial to the villagers? The Zimbabwe National Tourism Master Plan could be the answer.

The Master Plan seeks to identify potential tourism magnets to grow new tourist attractions in Zimbabwe. The plan has identified 11 Tourism Development Zones in Harare, Eastern Highlands, Chimanimani, Gonarezhou, Limpopo, Great Zimbabwe, Midlands, Bulawayo, Victoria Falls, Kariba and Mavhuradonha.

Those who know or have heard of the Maninga Mountains suggest that they fit squarely into the TDZ. The TDZ identifies potential product development opportunities.

These can generate small to medium investments and larger, more ambitious, projects to diversify the tourism product in Zimbabwe. The TDZ can also ensure the equitable spread of tourism benefits to communities.

The Mavhuradonha TDZ, however, has a potential to raise hopes for many rural communities that the tourism cake can be expanded for their benefit.

This TDZ area is a wilderness in northern Zimbabwe, which is part of the eastern side of the Zambezi Escarpment. The Master Plan states: “The terrain is extremely wild and rugged and the escarpments meet with Zimbabwe’s mineral rich Great Dyke Range.” Authorities believe “Mavhuradonha is one of Zimbabwe’s true wilderness.”

“The area is endowed with rich biodiversity with part of it designated as an Important Bird Area.” It houses the Tengenenge Arts Village with 2000 stone sculpture artists, basic accommodation, a wildlife farm and the Nyamaneche National Park. Mavhuradonha is believed to have a potential for a world class mini-tourism destination.

Tourism and Hospitality Industry Minister Walter Mzembi, in his foreword to the Master Plan, states there is a vibrant, real and powerful tourism economy that can play a central role in helping Zimbabwe to flourish.

“My ministry sees tourism as one integrated economic system – making substantive social, economic and environmental contributions that are very necessary, structurally, to economic success, very responsive to the citizens of the nation and that can bring wealth creation across many sectors and communities,” he said.

Tourism, according to the Master Plan, has the potential to stimulate economic growth while creating crucial employment. The Master Plan also identifies tourism as a tool for poverty alleviation.

The sector has shown huge potential for growth rising from a $200 million economy in 2009 to the current $1 billion. Minister Mzembi believes there is need to re-define tourism while enhancing community participation and beneficiation of the industry.

“This sector needs serious re-definitions, its understanding of the international community, regional, even our community.

“There has always been one definition in a leisure way. That it is a sector reserved for those who are already privileged, the rich,” he said.

The Master Plan will work as a guide in product development and diversification, infrastructural and manpower development, community participation and preservation of our nature, culture and heritage.

Minister Mzembi, after his global campaign for the position of secretary general of the UNWTO, looks at domesticating his vision. Zimbabwean tourism, in the colonial era, took place in a constricted band along the Zambezi basin. These areas include Victoria Falls, Kariba, Mana Pools and other few select areas.

“We have identified new growth frontiers in all provinces in what needs to be done to grow the tourism cake,” he said. He said Zimbabwe had magnets, the major attractions, such as the Victoria Falls, as tourist destinations.

“We have taken an overall growth strategy, that of new frontiers in all provinces, anchored on geographical spread of these tourism nuggets or magnets,” he said. Minister Mzembi said people have been struggling to find the nexus between the tourism products and community beneficiation.
“So you will see an attempt to integrate these communities and their involvement in this plan,” he said. The Ministry of Tourism and Hospitality Industry has signposted a $5 billion tourism economy by the year 2020.

The call – Vision 5:5:15:2020 – looks towards a $5 billion tourism economy from five million arrivals, contributing 15 percent to gross domestic product by year 2020.

Minister Mzembi said among the identified 11 TDZs, the Victoria Falls has been designated a special economic zone, with enhanced features in terms of investment attractiveness.

“My vision is really to see that extension of SEZ status extended to all remaining 10 (tourism development zones) . . . (for) a democratic dispensation that ensures that there is tourism for all inclusively,” he said.

The re-definition, Minister Mzembi says, will go beyond its ledger definition to include historical, liberation tourism, religious tourism, culinary and cultural tourism.

“These are elements of tourism that you will not ordinarily see in the leisure definition,” he said. The launch of the Master Plan later this year coincides with the designation of 2017 as the International Year of Sustainable Tourism for Development.

“Going forward to 2030, as you will be aware, tourism is assigned to three Sustainable Development Goals.

“The first one, SDG No. 8 (is) on decent jobs and growth and if this plan cannot expose the jobs opportunities for the youths in alignment with our own vision at the African Union on harnessing the demographic dividend and investing in the youths, then it is not good enough.

“So I would like to see a link in terms of output between what has been designated as zones and how they are going to generate jobs going forward to 2030 in alignment with the SDG.”

The next SDG, No. 12 on sustainable consumption and production, Minister Mzembi said, is relevant to the extent that biodiversity constitutes 80 percent of the tourism product in Zimbabwe and Africa.

“The sustainable management of our flora and fauna is so imperative to the extent that we can sustain the product and attractions that bring in current international source markets into our destination.

“We have to drive a very strong message around sustainable management of our biodiversity if we are going to sustain the product going forward in the future,” he said.

The third goal, Minister Mzembi said, Goal No. 14, which is related to life under water.

“It was conceived mainly on the back of oceanic resources but I am sure you know that in Zimbabwe we now have huge and large water bodies like the Tokwe-Mukosi, Kariba Dam and others that characterize life under water,” he said.

The minister believes there is recreational and empowerment potential of Zimbabwe water bodies in fisheries and aquaculture products.

“It is in that context that you find us at the UNWTO celebrating at least one of the international tourism days with a theme on tourism.

“Water because; wherever there is water, there is tourism; wherever there is water, there is recreational potential and wherever there is water there is tourism.”

Minister Mzembi said the Master Plan speaks to the overall development thrust in the country as enunciated under Zim-Asset.

“You will find, for example, the vision for transport development and the development of transport infrastructure and networks.

“Actually speaking of what we call economic arteries in this book, where we say, roads must lead somewhere and they must lead where there is economic activity.”

He said Zimbabwe’s many hidden treasures are not known because they are not accessible.

“This plan attempts to speak to the future; to say, if we are going to know all these assets, they must be accessible and they must be a transport artery, an economic artery network that basically exposes them.”

At the global level, tourism is the third global export earner, after fuels and chemicals, foodstuffs including automobiles.

It also contributes 10 percent of GDP employing 300 million across the world while adding 30 percent to global service exports and seven percent to net exports.

In Zimbabwe tourism has grown from a $200 million economy in 2009 to the $1 billion that it is today.

“It means there is incremental and exponential growth but this is coming out of natural attractiveness of the destination plus branding,” Minister Mzembi said.

He said there was also need for investment and application of basic laws of diminishing returns.

Source: Communities can develop benefit from tourism products (02/08/17)

Tuesday, 1 August 2017

New book on history of travel and tourism to the Victoria Falls now available to order online

We're pleased to announce the publication of 'Footsteps Through Time - a History of Travel and Tourism to the Victoria Falls' - now available to order in print edition from Amazon.

Exploring over 150 years of travel and tourism to the Victoria Falls, 'Footsteps Through Time' charts the evolution of a global tourism attraction. Discover the human heritage of this famous natural wonder and the people who have carved their names in its history - from the arrival of Dr David Livingstone in 1855, the coming of the railway and opening of the Victoria Falls Bridge fifty years later, to the development of international air travel and transformation into the modern tourism destination we know today.

This book is intended to support and expand on the author’s two previous books on the Falls, ‘Sun, Steel and Spray - A History of the Victoria Falls Bridge’ (first published 2011, revised second edition published 2016) and ‘Corridors Through Time - A History of the Victoria Falls Hotel’ (first published 2015), providing extensive background material and additional information to the story of the human history of the Victoria Falls.

Fully illustrated with over 100 archive images and photographs [First published 2017, 202 pages, 65,500 words].

'Footsteps Through Time - a History of Travel and Tourism to the Victoria Falls' is now available to order online through Amazon US or Amazon UK for delivery across North America, Europe and beyond.

See for more information and post-publication updates.

Also available:

Sun, Steel and Spray - a History of the Victoria Falls Bridge

Built in 1904-5 as part of the extension of the envisaged Cape-to-Cairo railway north into central Africa, the spanning of the Zambezi River pushed engineering knowledge and construction techniques of the time to new heights, literally, for at the time the Bridge was the highest of its kind over water. Fully revised and extended with many additional sections, this new edition of 'Sun, Steel and Spray' is full of interesting facts, entertaining stories and information detailing the rich history of this iconic structure. [First published 2011, second edition 2016. 158 pages, 45,000 words]

'Sun, Steel and Spray - a History of the Victoria Falls Bridge' is now available to order online through Amazon US or Amazon UK for delivery across Europe and beyond.

See for more information and post-publication updates.

Corridors Through Time - a History of the Victoria Falls Hotel

Established in 1904 The Victoria Falls Hotel has played a central role in the development of tourism to this great waterfall, offering rest and recuperation to travellers from across the world for over 100 years. Known affectionately as the 'Grand Old Lady of the Falls,' the Hotel has borne witness to changing times and fashions, growing from humble beginnings into luxury five-star elegance, through the age of the railway to the arrival of aviation, and from colonial administration to Independence and beyond. Fully illustrated with over 100 archive images. [First published 2015. 172 pages, 40,000 words]

'Corridors Through Time - a History of the Victoria Falls Hotel' is now available to order online through Amazon US or Amazon UK for delivery across Europe and beyond.

See for more information and post-publication updates.

Monday, 31 July 2017

Victoria Falls to get $10m mall

CONSTRUCTION of a $10 million up-market shopping mall in Victoria Falls is expected to start anytime soon.

The complex will be built by Zimre Property Investment (ZPI). ZPI chief executive officer Mr Edson Muvingi said work at the site was expected to start before the end of the year.

"We estimate a period of 13 to 18 months to complete the project. We expect to commence works on the ground this side of the year upon completion and obtaining all approvals. The approval processes are at an advanced stage including the Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA). We estimate a total cost in the region of $10 million to complete the project," said Mr Muvingi.

The Sawanga shopping mall would house offices, internet cafes, bookshops, banks, boutiques, hair salons, restaurants, motor spares shops, medical centre, theatres, cultural centre and gymnasium, among others. An elaborate sewage and water reticulation system would be put in place with access roads being constructed for easy vehicular movement.

"We have completed land acquisition and we are in the finalisation of the design, taking into account the needs of prospective tenants. We are also working on EIA report submission including stakeholder consultations which is ongoing and towards finalisation," said Mr Muvingi.

Zimre, which is both into residential and commercial property development, seeks to tap into the anticipated business boom on the back of an influx of tourists in the resort town.
"We felt the need to diversify our portfolio and create high class real estate assets. We were also motivated by the investment opportunity that exists in Victoria Falls for real estate development, particularly a good retail facility and the future growth potential of the tourist town. We were also prompted to consider investing in the property after a survey of the town we carried out in relation to retail facilities including Livingstone on the Zambian side as well as the excellent town management by the Victoria Falls Town Council and the business manner which they facilitate investment," said Mr Muvingi.

The property developer's environmental consultancy firm, Environmental Guardians Services' senior consultant Mr Michael Montana said compilation of the EIA report was almost complete and would soon be handed over to the Environmental Management Agency (Ema) for consideration.

"We are only left with submitting an EIA report to Ema. We had two consultative meetings and one feedback meeting that were very successful. In attendance at one of the meetings was Environment Africa-Zimbabwe-Zambia-Malawi-Mozambique chief executive officer Ms Charlene Hewat.

"We are however, still waiting for a comment from the Victoria Falls Municipality and for them to inform whether they have the capacity to manage the refuse and sewer generated from the complex. There is also the modification of Spencer Road belonging to the local authority which will be used for the dropping off of commuters as well as entrance into the complex," said Mr Montana.

He said the mall was also expected to offer affordable venues for local and international conferences.

"The project is expected to provide much needed formal and affordable businesses for the communities in Victoria Falls. There are several conferences that are hosted in Victoria Falls in conjunction with Zambia, attracting many delegates. The nature of the development will minimise negative environmental impacts and promote sustainability as the proposed plan blends in with the existing infrastructure and services. It will also promote urban restructuring, sustainable communities, and environmental and economic sustainability," said Mr Montana.

Environmental Guardians Services is one of the country's most reputable environmental firms which has carried out a number of projects across various sectors of the economy especially in Matabeleland region and the Midlands Province.

Source: Victoria Falls to get $10m mall (30/07/17)

Thursday, 27 July 2017

Tourism ministry engages police over roadblocks

HARARE - The Tourism ministry is continuing with efforts to have police reduce the ubiquitous roadblocks which have seen international tourists turning their backs on the country.
Apart from scaring international tourists, the many roadblocks have led to a national outcry by the local motoring public which accuses police of harassment and at times, corruption during the discharge of their duties at these stops.

The Zimbabwe Council for Tourism (ZCT), which represents the country’s major tourism players, yesterday said the Tourism and Hospitality ministry was in conversation with police over the roadblocks.

“We have in the past drawn attention to obstacles to such growth and in this regard I would like to remind operators that Zimbabwe Council of Tourism continues to push for reduction of roadblocks, improvement of all roads, introduction of reliable and affordable air transport around the country and the creation of an acceptable, smooth and efficient system of arrival and departure procedures at Beitbridge Border Post,” ZCT president Tich Hwingwiri told a media briefing.

“Bottom line is, we are simply seeking a win-win situation where number one, the security of the nation cannot be negotiated, we are fully aware of that and we are also saying business viability is a model that needs to be attained and our business is dependent on arrivals, the more arrivals, the more business we make…hence the inconveniences that our guys continue to face.

“It’s a song that we will continue to sing up to a point where we all have a common understanding of the way forward and I am very much encouraged with the deliberations that we have been involved in,” Hwingwiri said.

Tourists have voiced distress over the ubiquitous presence of Zimbabwe Republic Police (ZRP) details on the country's roads, with over half of respondents in a Zimbabwe National Statistical Agency (Zimstat) survey saying they felt harassed by the cops.

Harassment by the police constituted the highest percentage of the reasons not to recommend the country to potential tourists, at 43,2 percent, followed by harassment by Zimbabwe Revenue Authority (Zimra) officers at 14,7 percent.

Home Affairs minister Ignatius Chombo has said police had been instructed to decongest roadblocks through a directive which allowed one roadblock within a 10km radius to promote ease of doing business.

Instead, police have actually increased the roadblocks.

In their report for the first half of 2017, police made nearly $14 million from roadblocks and made a million arrests for traffic violations.

Meanwhile, Hwingwiri said that the number of visitors has significantly improved in Victoria Falls after government recently commissioned a $150 million international airport that has spurred brisk tourism business in the resort town.

This comes after Kenya Airways and Ethiopian Airways in April introduced direct flights to Victoria Falls from Nairobi and Addis Ababa, respectively.

Hwingiri also announced that Finance minister Patrick Chinamasa has also set aside efforts by the Zimra to retrospectively collect Value Added Tax on food and beverages sold as part of packaged accommodation between 2009 and 2015.

Source: Tourism ministry engages police over roadblocks (26/07/17)

Govt reverses backdated tourism VAT Zimra mustn’t ambush taxpayers

Africa Moyo Business Reporter

Finance and Economic Development Minister Patrick Chinamasa has waived the backdated Value Added Tax (VAT) accruing on food and beverages offered by the tourism industry as part of packaged accommodation between 2009 and 2015.

Zimra had launched a blitz on tourism operators who were accused of not paying 15 percent on both the withholding tax on commissions and VAT on food sold to foreigners as part of the accommodation package.

The VAT, which was backdated to 2009, has since been removed following representations by Tourism and Hospitality Industry Minister Dr Walter Mzembi and the tourism sector, to Minister Chinamasa.

Hoteliers, especially those operating in Victoria Falls, had been slapped with a combined $5,3 million bill in unpaid taxes by the Zimbabwe Revenue Authority (Zimra).

The Victoria Safari Lodge was handed a $1,26 million bill while the Victoria Falls Hotel was in arrears to the tune of $4,1 million. Zimra argued that the taxes were supposed to have been paid between 2009 and 2015.

The Zimbabwe Council for Tourism (ZCT), together with its parent ministry, have been arguing that compelling hoteliers to pay the bills would cripple their operations, especially at a time when the destination is increasingly being shunned by tourists because of high costs.

Hoteliers claim they were not charging the VAT based in part on the “informal and non-binding advice from Zimra, which did not conform to the procedures stipulated in the Revenue Authority Act”.

But on July 18, 2017, Minister Chinamasa wrote to Dr Mzembi saying the “retrospective collection of the outstanding VAT obligations will undermine the viability and going concern of most tourism operators, since no VAT can reciprocally be collected from transient clients”.

“In view of the above and taking into account the important role that tourism plays in the growth and development of the economy, Treasury has approved the VAT zero-rating of food and beverages sold as part of packaged meals for the period February 2009 and December 2015,” said Minister Chinamasa.

Yesterday, ZCT president Mr Tich Hwingwiri told journalists that the tourism industry “welcomes the decision . . . to set aside efforts by Zimra to retrospectively collect VAT on food and beverages sold as part of packaged accommodation between 2009 and 2015.

“Since this decision was announced, ZCT has been working behind the scenes with relevant authorities to have this decision set aside, principally because it was prejudicial to the financial viability of operators across the country, who could not, of course, claim back VAT from the guests who had purchased these services.

“The amounts involved were substantial and were a significant threat to the viability of all operators,” said Mr Hwingwiri.

The waiver of the backdated VAT comes at a time when Government is continuing to give rebates to the tourism sector particularly to expenditure on capital items.

This has helped the sector to retool, modernise and refurbish their properties. Several hotel groups such as Cresta, Rainbow Tourism Group and African Sun have already splashed huge sums of refreshing their businesses so as to appeal to a wider section of tourists.

Source: Govt reverses backdated tourism VAT (26/07/17)

More: Zimra mustn’t ambush taxpayers (27/07/17)

Elephant shot dead after trampling handler to death as British tourists waited for rides at Victoria Falls

An elephant was shot dead after trampling his handler to death as British tourists queued for rides on the animal at popular holiday hot-spot, Victoria Falls.
Mbajane the bull elephant, which translates to 'cannabis', charged at Enock Kufandada, 50, before repeatedly stamping his body into the ground on the Zambia - Zimbabwe border.
Park rangers were called in to control the horrific scene as officials ushered tourists from the UK, America and Australia to safety.
Mbajane was still in a rage and deemed a danger to others after the incident so he was brought down and killed with several high velocity bullets.
Workers said Mr Kufandada had been attacked twice before by the same elephant but survived.
Clement Mukwasi of the Employers Association of Tourism and Safari Operators said “The profession of elephant handling is a high risk one and deaths happen.
“We can confirm this sad incident which is the third in the last 10 years” he said.
Handler Mr Kufandada appears to have his left arm torn off along with both legs and it is not clear if he has been impaled with the stick used to control the elephant.
His blood soaked body was covered with sack cloth until the local police force had been called to the scene and then it was removed from the tourist area at Victoria Falls.
Mr Mukwasi hinted that elephants can “keep grudges” for many years against a handler if it has ever been mistreated during the process of training it for tourist rides.
Witnesses told local media that they heard screams and found the dead body torn apart and the 30-year-old bull elephant nearby clearly still enraged and in a bad temper.
The World Animal Protection action group said in a statement that the incident was "another sad reminder that elephants are wild animals and should not be ridden."
Two years ago a curio-seller was trampled to death by an elephant which had strayed into a shopping centre in Victoria Falls which is on the border with Zambia.
Glynnis Vaughan, chief inspector of the Zimbabwe National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, claims African elephants can never be “domesticated”.
She said: “Captured elephants which are used by several tourist companies have killed quite a few people in recent years. We should not be surprised when there are tragedies.
“Elephants are captured in the wild when they are young and taken from their families and teaching a young elephant to kneel so a tourist an mount it is vicious and it is cruel”.
Several large companies in Victoria Falls still provide rides for tourists on their elephants, most of which were captured and taken from their families.
There are a number of companies at Victoria Falls - one of Africa's most spectacular places to visit - which cater for tourist rides on African elephants.
Just last week game rangers shot and killed two other elephants which had roamed into the provincial capital of Mutare, East Zimbabwe, and killed a policeman.
Bankrupt Zimbabwe has been exporting dozens of young elephants to China in recent years for wildlife safari parks that have since been condemned by inspectors.
Tour operators at the Falls desperate to protect their livelihoods said the killing of the professional elephant handler was "a freak accident - one in a million".
Zimbabwe National Parks and Wildlife Management Authority rangers shot and killed the elephant which was used by the tour operator Adventure Zone.
Mr Kufandada was preparing to take the bull elephant which he had worked with for many years out of its pen for a tourist ride when it attacked and killed him.
Victoria Falls District Chief Superintendent of police Jairos Chiwona said: "I confirm we received a report of a man who was attacked and killed by a domesticated elephant".
The rogue elephant Mbanje was grazing with a female jumbo called Nkanyiso after a ride and was about to go out for another after a group of tourists arrived for a ride.
The victims’ son Shepherd said: “We were told my father was rounding up the elephant when he was attacked. I don’t know what we will do as he was the breadwinner.
“I went with my fathers workmates to help pick up the scattered body parts”.
The married father-of-two will be buried at his rural home village of Mutare.
Adventure Zone boss Mr Brent Wlliamson said: “I am in complete shock about the whole incident. This was one of our guides who had been working for us since 2005.
“It's with deep regret that we advise that at 2.30pm on Saturday our domesticated elephant bull charged one of our staff that resulted in him losing his life.
“Clement was an extremely competent member of staff who will be sorely missed” he said.

More on this story (external links):
Trained elephant kills handler (The Chronicle, 23/07/17))
Elephant 'domesticated' to give tourist rides at Victoria Falls kills handler (The Telegraph, 24/07/17)
Elephant used for tourist rides tramples handler to death before being shot dead  (The Independent, 25/07/17)
SA’s elephant industry under pressure to end elephant rides (10/06/17)
The truth behind elephant back riding in South Africa (25/11/16)
Can elephant tourism be ethical? (The Telegraph, 02/02/16)
Breaking Africa's elephants (pdf report, World Animal Protection Canada)

More captive elephant incidents (from this blog):  Captive elephant used in tourist elephant-back safaris kills handler (Livingstone, Zambia) (02/04/13)
Captive Elephant Used In Tourism Safaris Kills Handler In Victoria Falls (19/12/08)
Elephant-back Safaris “Simply Accidents Waiting to Happen” Warns Top Tourism Insurer (10/0/17)

Sunday, 23 July 2017

Poacher arrested for causing over 100 elephant deaths in Hwange

Leonard Ncube & Nqobile Tshili, Chronicle Reporters

POLICE have arrested a suspected poacher for allegedly poisoning over 100 elephants using cyanide at Hwange National Park.

Tony Maphosa, who has been on the run since 2013, allegedly poisoned water points and salt pans with cyanide resulting in the death of more than 100 elephants.

Maphosa was arrested in the national park on Wednesday following a tip off.

An anti-poaching team comprising rangers from Zimbabwe Parks and Wildlife Management Authority and police recovered two pieces of ivory from him.

Zimparks spokesperson Mr Tinashe Farawo confirmed the arrest.

“A man from Tsholotsho was arrested on Wednesday with two elephant tusks,” he said.

Mr Farawo said an anti-poaching team was still on the ground in the national park following the killing of two elephants which were discovered on Monday in a suspected case of cyanide poisoning.
Police national spokesperson Chief Superintendent Paul Nyathi said he was yet to receive a report on the arrest.

However, police sources said Maphosa was detained at Dete Police Station and is expected to appear in court in Hwange in due course.

“He has been on the wanted list in connection with poisoning of elephants in 2013 and is also linked tothe death of eight elephants this year,” said a police source.

Meanwhile, two people have been jailed for nine years each for illegally possessing three pieces of ivory valued at $900 and 270 grammes of cyanide.

David Ndlovu (42) and Nkathazo Penga (33) confessed to killing five jumbos by lacing oranges with the deadly cyanide when they were arrested on July 4 at Cross Dete where they were selling the ivory. —@ncubeleon

Source: ‘Poacher kills’ over 100 elephants (22/07/17)

Thursday, 20 July 2017

Zimbabwe to release 1 million hectares of protected land for mining

BULAWAYO, July 19 (The Source) — Zimbabwe is planning to release one million hectares of protected land to small-scale gold miners across the country to boost production, Mines and Development deputy minister, Fred Moyo has said, a development that threatens wildlife areas.
Moyo told journalists at the on-going Mining, Engineering and Transport (Mine Entra) expo that the land would be released very “soon”.
“The geology is largely gold so those provinces that have got more gold than others obviously will have more hectarage but we are releasing in all the provinces. It’s basically happening now and paperwork is in the process of being signed,” Moyo said.
“Remember these will be protected areas and we are removing the protection and once these are lifted people can go and peg in the normal way that they do. Last week I signed one in Mashonaland West, one in the Midlands, and there was one in Masvingo.”
Zimbabwe has six categories of protected land; national parks, gazetted forests, botanical reserves, botanical gardens, safari areas and 15 recreational parks and sanctuaries.
Zimbabwe Miners Federation president, Aplonia Munzverengwi told The Source that some miners were already mining in state-reserved areas.
“Right now, those activities they are informal and people are taking the gold to the black market. The (mines) ministry has now managed to identify those State reserved areas where they are going to release land,” she said.
“As soon as the land is officially released they should register their activities and they will be able to access loans from (government owned gold buyer) Fidelity, mechanisation and the working capital.”

Wednesday, 19 July 2017

ZTA partners models to promote domestic tourism

From Leonard Ncube in Victoria Falls

THE Zimbabwe Tourism Authority (ZTA) has partnered with models whom they believe are the best tourism ambassadors to market the country’s destinations locally and internationally.

Last week, the tourism authority offered recently crowned Miss Mt Pleasant Constituency (Harare) Sikhulile Shumba and her two princesses Floreet Chikomwe and Vimbayi Mungofa a four-day holiday in Victoria Falls as one of their prizes for winning. By doing this, the ZTA wanted the models to have a feel of the country’s prime resort and help market it.

During their visit, the models – who arrived in Victoria Falls on Friday and flew back to Harare on Sunday – partook in activities such as gorge swing, bungee jumping, rafting and a game drive.
The Chronicle caught up with the three models who pledged to partner ZTA in marketing the country’s tourist attractions.

The queen, a 3rd year Sociology student at the University of Zimbabwe thanked ZTA for exposing them to the other side of Zimbabwe.

“This was my first time in Victoria Falls and it’s amazing. I want to thank ZTA for this opportunity and I promise to work hard to make sure this destination and all activities on offer are known locally and internationally,” Shumba said.

First princess, Chikomwe said the world’s 7th natural wonder is a must visit for everyone while Mungofa, an A Level student at Pace College in Harare was on cloud nine, promising to spread the gospel of domestic tourism so locals do not learn about the country’s resorts from foreigners.

“I’ll make sure all youths I interact with know about Victoria Falls than to be told by foreign tourists,” Mungofa said.

ZTA spokesperson Sugar Chagonda said they had given the models the package as a way to promote domestic tourism.

“As ZTA, our mandate is to market our destinations and when we get an opportunity we seize it. We pledged to send the winners to Victoria Falls because we want these models to appreciate and market our unique destinations when they interact with their colleagues locally and internationally,” said Chagonda.

Source: ZTA partners models to promote domestic tourism (18/07/17)

Tuesday, 18 July 2017

Wild Horizons basks in increased business

Leonard Ncube in Victoria Falls

ONE of the leading tour operators in Victoria Falls, Wild Horizons, says it is enjoying a new lease of life in business on the back of increasing demand for its services.

The commissioning of the $150 million new look Victoria Falls International Airport by President Mugabe last year in November has resulted in increased arrivals to the country’s prime resort town.
Wild Horizons has business interests in Zimbabwe, Botswana, Zambia and South Africa. It recently introduced a luxury cruise to add to the traditional sunset and lunchtime cruise, which are a favourite for most tourists. The company’s sales manager, Mr Titus Maseko, told journalists during a media tour in Victoria Falls recently that the firm was now handling above 500 clients per day.

“In a single day we transfer over 500 people in and around Victoria Falls where about 90 percent of our clients are international,” he said.

Mr Maseko said there was high demand for the luxury cruise, with the company running five different kinds of boats on the Mighty Zambezi.

“Demand for luxury cruise is now 90 percent while most people also do sunset cruise because of the general increase in tourist arrivals in Victoria Falls. We run standard cruise boats, a 28-seater, 30-seater as well as 60 and 80-seater and sometimes we sub-hire.

“The most encouraging thing is it seems the perception of Zimbabwe as a destination has changed and people no longer view us as a risky area. This, together with new facilities as the airport and accommodation facilities, has attracted new attention,” he said.

Wild Horizons is into ground handling, activities and accommodation. The company ventured into tourism in the 1990s but established itself as Wild Horizons in 2004 as an amalgamation of individual companies. It also does transfers in and around Victoria Falls extending to Botswana and Zambia.

Major activities include white water rafting, tour of the Rainforest, gorge swing, elephant back safari, elephant ride and encounter, game drives, cruises, canoeing, fishing, helicopter flight among others.
The top adventure tour operator now offers accommodation facilities at Elephant Camp, Imbabala Safari Lodge and lately Stanley and Livingstone.

Over the years the operator was surviving on budget travellers and overlanders. It now has grown to be the biggest tour operator in Zimbabwe.

As such, Mr Maseko said their target market was foreign as the company’s motto is to empower indigenous operators by not competing with them.

“We don’t want to take business from indigenous local operators hence our focus is where local companies can’t go. This is why we hand over our overspills to local indigenous operators,” he said adding that they do not usually offer specials to tourists with a view that a three-tier system is not good for the industry.

Mr Maseko said Wild Horizons, which employs over 400 people, will contribute to the growth of the Special Economic Zones (SEZs) where Victoria Falls is one of the pilot areas alongside Bulawayo and Harare.

He said for SEZ in Victoria Falls to prosper, there was a need for a policy that can ensure the destination retains part of revenue realised there.

“Victoria Falls needs to retain a certain amount of resources and we hope whatever is going to happen with the SEZ will work towards that.

“We need development in terms of academic facilities, which would then translate to employment of locals. All along locals have been losing out because there are no colleges in Matabeleland North hence companies recruit students elsewhere who end up getting the available jobs,” said Mr Maseko.
Besides accommodation, Wild Horizons also operates Lookout Café, the only restaurant with a view of the gorge and specialises in lunches when everyone is focusing on dinners. Mr Maseko said the company was able to cope with demand and always strategises for clients.

Wild Horizons is also active in community development where it had over the years donated to charity, wildlife management, anti-poaching as well as running a wildlife trust where orphaned and injured wildlife is treated and taken care of with schoolchildren being taken in for educational interactions free of charge every Friday.

Source: Wild Horizons basks in increased business (17/07/17)

Baboon causes power cut in Livingstone, Zambia

A baboon in Zambia has tampered with the cables at a power station in the south of the country leaving 50,000 people without electricity.
It caused the blackout on Sunday morning by climbing into the power station and pulling at the lines.
The baboon survived the "massive electric shock" that would have killed a human being, a power company spokesman said.
A person would also have been prosecuted, Henry Kapata added.
The baboon was rescued by a wildlife organisation and is now recovering but has "serious wounds", he told the BBC.
The power station is in the Zambian tourist city of Livingstone, where it is common for wild animals to be roaming around as it near a national park, the BBC's Kennedy Gondwe says.
Electricity has now been restored to the affected customers in Livingstone and the nearby Western Province.
In a similar incident last year, a monkey caused a nationwide power outage in Kenya.
More from this blog: Baboons

Monday, 17 July 2017

New airlines boost Vic Falls tourism boom

HARARE - The recently-commissioned $150 million Victoria Falls International Airport has spurred brisk tourism business in the resort town.

This comes after Kenya Airways and Ethiopian Airways — in April — introduced direct flights to Victoria Falls from Nairobi and Addis Ababa respectively.

On the other hand, Rwandan Airlines, which introduced the Kigali-Harare direct flights during the same month and the Turkish Airlines have indicated that they might soon be flying into the newly-refurbished Victoria Falls International Airport.

The airport is poised to attract increased air traffic after it underwent a $150 million facelift which increased passenger handling capacity to 1,5 million per year, up from 500 000.

South African Airways introduced its new Airbus A330-300 aircraft on the Johannesburg-Victoria Falls route after the upgrading.

Hospitality Association of Zimbabwe (Haz) Victoria Falls chapter chairperson Christopher Svovah told the Daily News on Sunday that average hotel occupancy levels rose from 48 percent in the first quarter of 2016 to nearly 58 percent this year.

“We applaud the government for coming up with the open skies policy as this has resulted in a number of airlines such as Ethiopian Airlines, Kenya Airways and SA Airlink  among others bringing more tourists into Victoria Falls,” he said.

Svovah, who is also the Victoria Falls Rainbow Hotel general manager, said there was correlation between air connectivity and socio-economic growth.

“It enhances destination accessibility and connectivity and whenever there are airlines, there is socio-economic growth. This growth will not only be in Zimbabwe, but across the region.

“We anticipate that 90 000 new seats are coming into Victoria Falls and this will increase volumes for taxi drivers, food outlets, hotels and all other hospitality institutions,” he said.

The new international terminal has capacity to service 1,5 million people per annum and a new parallel 4 000 metres runway to cater for wide body aircraft in the class of Boeing 747.

Victoria Falls is the epicentre of a 500-kilometre radius, which includes one of the greatest rivers of the world, Zambezi, and a diverse number of wilderness areas ranging from the Okavango Delta and Chobe National Park in Botswana, Kafue National Park in Zambia, Hwange and Matusadona National Parks and Lake Kariba in Zimbabwe.

Svovah said the increase in tourist arrivals has seen various hospitality industry players coming up with new concepts and refurbishing existing ones to meet international standards and increased tourists’ demand.

African Sun Limited chief executive Edwin Shangwa said the listed hospitality group recently completed repainting of its Elephant Hills Resort and Conference Centre exterior in the resort area.

“The Victoria Falls Hotel second phase refurbishment is expected to start before the end of the year.  And creation of additional conferencing facility at The Kingdom at Victoria Falls is expected to be completed by the third quarter of 2017,” he said.

Adventure tour operator, Wild Horizons, said it was failing to meet demand due to increased tourist’s arrivals.

“The demand for our luxury cruises is higher and most of the times we end up sub hiring other companies,” the company’s sales manager Titus Maseko said.

Wild Horizons, which specialises in outdoor adventure tours, adrenaline activities, wildlife viewing, cultural excursions and transfers, operates four luxury cruises with a total capacity of 200 passengers.
Amid the boom in occupancy, commercial sex workers are also recording brisk business from “short-time” and “pungwe” romps.

“We are getting more clients, visitors are coming and we are happy with our business,” a sex worker who only identified herself as Idah said.

Despite the boom, challenges remain.

According to Haz, Zimbabwe is 30 percent more expensive than other countries in the sub-region – a development that has seen some tourists preferring to stay in Zambia.

Some tour operators in Victoria Falls also complained about the controversial 15 percent Value Added Tax imposed on foreign tourists. Government has refused to scrap the 15 percent tax on foreign tourists’ accommodation.

Hospitality industry players also said Statutory Instrument 64 of 2016 promulgated in June last year, which bans the import of certain South African goods, including coffee creamers, camphor creams, white petroleum jellies, plastic pipes and fittings, builders’ products, baked beans, cereals, bottled water and second-hand tyres, had adversely affected the industry.

“The introduction of SI64, which we now hear was promulgated without proper consultation, is making life difficult for most hotels around here,” said a local hospitality industry player. 

“There are some products which are popular with tourists such as flavoured milk and cereals that were put on the import ban list but are not yet fully available in Zimbabwe and this has put pressures on most companies’ performance.”

Source: New airlines boost Vic Falls tourism boom (16/07/17)