Footsteps Through Time

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

Friday, 30 June 2017

Procurement close for Zambia’s Batoka hydro PPP

The feasibility study has been completed on Zambia’s planned Batoka Gorge hydroelectric PPP project and is currently going through final reviews, the country’s PPP unit acting director has said.



Source: Procurement close for Zambia’s Batoka hydro PPP (29/06/17)

Further information (downloadable pdfs): Development of the Batoka Gorge Hydro – Electric SchemeProject Overview Document

BATOKA GORGE HYDRO - ELECTRIC SCHEMEJune - July 2016 International Investor Conference - 30 March 2017



More from this blog: Batoka Gorge


Thursday, 22 June 2017

Zimbabwe's ‘Disneyland’ At Victoria Falls Gets Beijing Investment

Zimbabwe just got one step closer to its dream of building a “Disneyland in Africa,” at the site of Victoria Falls, one of the world's biggest waterfalls. Zimbabwe’s Tourism Minister Walter Mzembi tells Newsweek that the country has signed a “memorandum of understanding” with Chinese investors to carry out a feasibility study and draw up a masterplan for the project, first proposed in 2013 as a $300 million-park with hotels, entertainment parks and restaurants.

Mzembi says that the project will contribute to building a $5 billion tourism industry in Zimbabwe by 2020. That would mean a five-fold increase on 2016's figures, when the government stated 2016 that tourism was worth $1 billion.

The United States, European Union and others imposed sanctions on Zimbabwe following the implementation of its controversial land reform program in 2000—which included the forcible seizure of white-owned farms—and Mzembi says that had a devastating effect on tourism.

However, the minister believes that Zimbabwe’s standing in the international community has now improved, and that the Victoria Falls project can help to revamp its image. “Tourism is a peace sector and tourism is a peace bridge. It has worked for us very well,” Mzembi tells Newsweek. “We are not the bad boy of the world in Zimbabwe any more, not at all.”

China is Africa’s single largest trade partner and has invested hugely in infrastructure projects on the continent, such as a $4 billion railway linking major cities in Kenya.

Relations between Chinese President Xi Jinping and Zimbabwe’s leader Robert Mugabe are close. During a 2015 visit to Zimbabwe, Xi signed multiple economic deals, including one for more than $1 billion of Chinese investment in Zimbabwe’s largest thermal power plant. That year China also canceled $40 million of debt owed by Zimbabwe; in response, Zimbabwe made the Chinese currency, the yuan, legal tender in the country.

Mzembi declines to identify the Chinese investors, but indicates that they would be from a state-run company. He also says that while the Chinese are carrying out the initial preparations, he has received “so many proposals running into billions and billions of dollars from potential investors,” including in the U.S., South Korea and the U.K. “We are not closing anybody out,” says Mzembi, while admitting that the Chinese have a “head start.”

The minister says that the project will focus around a modern conference center, with hotels hotels, villas and a museum also at the site. Victoria Falls is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, so Mzembi says that construction will take place at a safe distance so as not to interfere with the natural features of the waterfall.

“It’s time to mobilize that destination and make it compete with other waterfall projects like Niagara, Iguazu and elsewhere,” says Mzembi. Niagara Falls is located on the U.S.-Canada border, while Iguazu Falls is on the border between Argentina and Brazil.

The project marks an attempt to rebrand the international image of Zimbabwe, which has been largely associated with economic malaise and authoritarian rule under President Mugabe, who has been in power since the country’s independence in 1980. Mugabe, 93, is standing in Zimbabwe’s next general election in 2018, despite widespread protests in recent months.

Zimbabwe’s economy is currently in a slump: Unemployment is high, and a crippling shortage of U.S. dollars prompted the reserve bank to start printing its own pseudo-currency—known as bond notes—in 2016. The country has not had its own currency since the Zimbabwean dollar became defunct in 2009 following a period of massive hyperinflation that meant the price of a loaf of bread rose to billions of dollars. The introduction of bond notes has raised fears that the country may be sliding towards another period of inflation.

Foreign tourist arrivals to Zimbabwe increased to 2.06 million in 2015, up from 1.88 million in 2014, according to the latest report from the Zimbabwe Tourism Authority. More than four out of five arrivals in Zimbabwe came from elsewhere in Africa, but the southern African country also has big tourism markets in the United States and United Kingdom.

Zimbabwe opened a new international airport at Victoria Falls in December 2016, which it expects to handle 1.5 million passengers per year.

The tourism ministry wants the area to become a “regional hub” for foreign visitors to southern Africa: Victoria Falls itself lies on the border between Zimbabwe and Zambia, and is also close to Botswana, which is popular with foreign tourists undertaking safaris.

Source: ZIMBABWE'S ‘DISNEYLAND’ AT VICTORIA FALLS GETS BEIJING INVESTMENT (22/6/17)

More: Govt Says Signs 'Disneyland in Africa' Agreement With Chinese Funders (22/6/17)
   $460m Disneyland Vic Falls investor found (3/1/15)
   African 'Disneyland' still planned for Victoria Falls (22/6/14)
   Zimbabwe To Convert Victoria Falls Into Garden of Eden (3/9/13)
   Zimbabwe's 'Disneyland' plans 'inappropriate' (28/8/13)
   Victoria Falls 'Disneyland' on the cards (22/6/13)

Zim signs Victoria Falls 'Disneyland in Africa' deal with Chinese developers

The government has signed a comprehensive agreement with unnamed Chinese investors for the construction of its 'Disneyland in Africa', a tourism and conference theme park in the resort town of Victoria Falls, the tourism minister said on Wednesday.
In 2013, the impoverished southern African nation said it had set aside 300 hectares of land to build a state-of-the-art conference centre to house hotels, businesses, shopping malls, banks, exhibition and entertainment facilities such as casinos near the Victoria Falls International Airport.
The theme park, whose costs have been put at $460 million, is seen as crucial to rebranding the country dogged by perceptions of political volatility and human rights abuses, using the formula that has worked in California, Florida in the United States and Paris in France.
"We have signed an overarching agreement with some Chinese developers for a master plan to develop 300ha of land between the (Victoria Falls) airport and Masue River. We need to drive the convention business and direct traffic to ourselves," Mzembi told journalists at a press conference.
"Already we are looking at 2020 where we are dreaming of a $5 billion tourism sector in Victoria Falls alone." said Minister Mzembi.
Source: Govt Says Signs 'Disneyland in Africa' Agreement With Chinese Funders (22/6/17)
   Zimbabwe To Convert Victoria Falls Into Garden of Eden (3/9/13)
   Zimbabwe's 'Disneyland' plans 'inappropriate' (28/8/13)
   Victoria Falls 'Disneyland' on the cards (22/6/13)

Wednesday, 21 June 2017

Broke Zimparks auctions tourist attraction centres

The Zimbabwe National Parks and Wildlife Authority is auctioning various tourist attraction centres as it does not have resources to develop them, The Herald has learnt. The sites are dotted around the country and are commonly referred to as photographic sites. Zimparks acting spokesperson Mr Simukai Nyasha said in an interview yesterday that the auction was set for Harare.
Desired Liaison Auctioneers was hired to conduct the auction.

“An auction will be conducted in Harare on 29 June 2017 and is open to the public,” he said. “This is meant to auction photographic sites that are available in the land managed by Zimparks. These photographic sites will enable private investors to develop tourism facilities.”

Mr Nyasha said the move was meant to develop the sites and counter competition from other players.
“The Zimbabwe Parks and Wildlife Management Authority manages land reserved under the Parks and Wildlife Management Act (Chapter 20:14),” he said.

“The land managed by Zimparks is a major tourism and recreation draw card, receiving both domestic, regional and international visitors.

“Visitors to areas managed by Zimparks are increasingly seeking a broader range of experiences supported by new services, facilities and infrastructure.”

Mr Nyasha said the parks authority was committed to increasing visitors to its sites through offering unique and quality experiences.

He said they recognised that building and maintaining effective partnerships with the private sector was important in achieving the objective.

Mr Nyasha said the sites were put to tender as a way of ensuring transparency and equal participation by all interested parties.

The photographic sites are located in Hwange, Victoria Falls, Kariba, Kyle and Umzingwane.
Mr Nyasha said foreign investors could also tender for the photographic sites, but had to comply with the laws of the country regulating investment from foreigners.

“Zimparks seeks to unlock commercial value of land and obtain an appropriate financial return within the parks estate by allowing investors to develop land for non-consumptive tourism purposes,” he said.

“This is one of the innovative ways for Zimparks and the private sector to work together.”
Mr Nyasha said the photographic leases were subject to renewal after every five years to a maximum period of 25 years.

Also on offer were self-catering lodges at Robins and Sinamatella camps in Hwange.

“There are a number of individuals and organisations that are willing and have approached the authority for partnership arrangements in operating our accommodation infrastructure,” said Mr Nyasha. “Since the authority has no financial resources to renovate and develop its lodges, it is only prudent to consider getting into partnerships and have our facilities developed to match the standards of our competitors or better.

“The partnership arrangement will be on a build, operate and transfer basis.”

Source: Broke Zimparks auctions tourist attraction centres (20/6/17)

Zimparks mulls opening Victoria Falls Rainforest round the clock to boost tourism

ZIMBABWE Parks and Wildlife Management Authority (Zimparks) is planning to upgrade facilities and install artificial lighting in the famed Victoria Falls Rainforest, which it is considering opening round the clock to attract more tourists.
The Rainforest, located within the 2,340-hectare Victoria Falls National Park, is visited on average by 250,000 tourists annually, 75 percent of them foreign visitors and offers unparalleled views of the Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe’s premier tourist attraction.The Falls are the largest curtain of naturally falling water in the world measuring 1.7km wide and 108m in depth and are one of the seven natural wonders of the world.
About 198 000 people paid to visit the Rainforest in 2012. Zimparks feels the numbers are too low and is looking at the possibility of opening the Rainforest around the clock.
“As Zimparks we are looking at coming up with 7 star hotel facilities with conferencing service in Victoria Falls National Park as well as improving the Rainforest waterfall viewpoints and the restaurant overlooking Zambezi River,” Zimparks deputy director general George Manyumwa told a visiting Chinese delegation examining the proposed location of a Special Economic Zone (SEZ) in the area.
Government has earmarked Victoria Falls, Harare’s Sunway City, Bulawayo, Mutare and Lupane for the SEZ development
“There will also be renovation of entrance to increase range of services and luxury goods, duty free retail shops as well as illumination of Rainforest to enable 24 hour visitation,” he said.
He did not give details about revenue but it costs $7 for locals to enter the Rainforest while regional and international tourists pay $20 and $30 respectively.
Manyumwa said the Victoria Falls town had a limited number of activities at night, resulting in visitors limiting their average visitation to one day.
“The new airport can now handle 1,5 million passengers a year which is an opportunity to increase tourist arrivals,” he said.
Last week, Tourism Minister Walter Mzembi said Zimbabwe had signed a comprehensive agreement with unnamed Chinese investors for the construction of a ‘Disneyland in Africa’, a tourism and conference theme park in the resort town.
Government is also exploring the option of making the theme park a part of the economic zone, officials said, adding that no firm decision had been made, officials said. – The Source

Monday, 19 June 2017

'No more electricity cuts for Zimbabwe'

THE Government has assured the nation that the country will not be cut off by regional power suppliers after Zesa settled part of the debt it owed South Africa's Eskom and Mozambique's Hydro Cahora Bassa (HCB).

Last month the two regional power producers, especially Eskom threatened to switch off Zimbabwe if Zesa had failed to settle an outstanding power import bill of $43 million by 31 May.

The country which consumes an average 1 400MW daily against a generation capacity of 980MW, imports about 300kW from Eskom while HCB chips in with 50MW.

In an interview on the sidelines of the commissioning of Hwange Power Station (HPS) ash handling plant on Wednesday, Energy and Energy Development Minister Dr Samuel Undenge said there was no need to worry about power shortages as the country has made the right arrangements to ensure that there is enough power.

"The impasse between us and our external suppliers of electricity was resolved, we made a substantial payment over the past weeks and we have agreed on payment terms for the remaining balance, our aim is to clear the debt," said Dr Undenge.

The minister, however, could not be drawn to reveal how much Zesa has paid to avert the situation. Due to foreign currency shortages, Zesa that had presented a payment plan which included paying $89 million between January and April failed to honour the agreement resulting in Eskom's threats to cut supplies. Zesa however, managed to pay $46 million with the payment plan including last year's arrears.

Dr Undenge described the electricity generation in the country as stable saying five units at Hwange Thermal Power Station were running, churning out 560MW with the sixth unit which was undergoing a major overhaul expected to be online in September.

"We are now at five units in service and today (Wednesday) we were producing 560MW which is quite commendable. We expect the resumption of Unit 6 which is going through a major overhaul to be back in service in September then we will further increase power generation.

"Yes, of course we have a deficit due to the fact that at Kariba Power Station the water levels are still low but improving. Last year our generation was limited to 285MW but the Zambezi River Authority increased our allocation of water so we are now producing at an average of 380MW," he said.

HPS has an installed capacity is 920 MW while Kariba Hydro is at 750 MW. Dr Undenge said the Government was prioritising local generation to reduce imports in the long run.

"Nationally we still have a deficit on a daily basis, the average is 1 500 MW but in winter that increases and that is the period we are in right now. We will supplement by importing from Eskom and Cahora Bassa to fill that deficit. We have been importing an average of 50MW from Hydro Cahora Bassa while from Eskom it varies. Our imports increase during the off peak period and we cut down during the peak period that's when we up our generation here."

Source: 'No more electricity cuts for Zimbabwe' (18/6/17)

Friday, 16 June 2017

Pressure on Zim to stop activities involving wild animals

Leonard Ncube in Victoria Falls

THE tourism industry is facing a gloomy future as some international tourism agents from America are reportedly campaigning for closure of tour activities that involve wild animals.

Indications are that elephant rides and lion walks will be closed in December this year despite the activities being one of the cornerstones of the industry.

The international agents bring clients to local tour operators and have reportedly given conditions that if they do not close they would stop marketing the tour operators’ products and services.

Sources said the animal activists are even offering large sums of money to operators to stop activities involving wildlife.

The companies are under pressure and have agreed to close in December so that they remain in business.

More than 90 percent of tourists that enjoy elephant rides and lion walk come from the same agents.
The activities have stopped in Botswana and South Africa and pressure is now on Zambia and Zimbabwe.

Zambian tour operators who offer elephant rides have advertised to their clients that they would stop on December 31 while Business Chronicle is reliably informed that locally, Wild Horizons, one of the tour operators in Victoria Falls, will also be closed on the same date.

However, authorities at Wild Horizons told this paper that they were yet to decide on the date to close the activities.

Adventure Zone, Elephant Express, Shearwater are also part of the companies that offer elephant rides in Victoria Falls while Lion Encounter does lion walks.

“We will be stopping but we don’t have a date yet. Yes there is an international campaign to stop activities involving animals such as elephants,” said Mr Craig White of Wild Horizons.

He however played down the issue saying the company was voluntarily scaling down the rides.
Sources told this paper that the company was under pressure from its major agents who have threatened to stop bringing tourists if it continues activities involving animals.

Asked about the implications of the closure on business, Mr White said it would definitely impact negatively on his business.

Shearwater spokesperson, Mr Clement Mukwasi, who is also president of Employers Association of Safari and Tourism Operators said there was a need to strike a balance instead of closing abruptly.
He said the drive was coming from the source market mainly in the United States which targeted countries such as India and African countries were suffering from spillover effects.

“The campaign against use of wild animals in tourism has always been there by wildlife activists. As an industry we say there shouldn’t be an abrupt closure but a system must be devised with a budget for rehabilitation of those animals and compensation of those employed in the sector in the event that we close,” he said.

Mr Mukwasi said the elephant rides is one of the key sectors of tourism as it employs many people and contribute to tourism growth.

“They have to strike a balance. They should give alternatives in relation to people’s jobs and rehabilitation of these animals. Those who are able to close must not do so for scientific benefits without first putting proper measures.

“There is a lot of campaign against animal activities in the source market especially USA as they target India and in our case we have no track record of abuse of animals.”
While other operators have indicated that they will be closing, Mr Mukwasi said his organisation was still consulting.

Sources said Shearwater and Elephant Express have refused to budge because they no longer deal directly with some of the agents pushing for the closure who are based in South Africa.

Across the Zambezi River in Livingstone, only Mukuni Big Five Safaris, run by Chief Mukuni would continue offering animal activities as it also does not directly deal with the concerned agents.

The agents have reportedly planted posters at airports in Zambia stating that any tourism activity involving wild animals was cruel to the animals.

Operators were likely to divert from animal interactions while some have already started setting up restaurants to replace lost activities and business.

It costs $150 per person to ride an elephant for 45 minutes and $165 in Zambia.

@ncubeleon

Source: Pressure on Zim to stop activities involving wild animals (15/06/17)

Wednesday, 14 June 2017

10 elephants poisoned with cyanide - Hwange, Zimbabwe

Nine adult elephants and one calf have been poisoned with cyanide around Zimbabwe’s largest wildlife area, the government’s Hwange National Park.

Four of the poisoned elephants died near the south of the Park and their tusks were taken.

The others, including a mother and her calf were found in two areas further north and may have been poisoned last weekend and the poachers had not yet returned to hack out the tusks from the dead animals

Trevor Lane from the Bhejane Trust, which monitors much wildlife activity in north western Zimbabwe, said early Tuesday that government rangers from the Parks and Wildlife Management Authority were following up.

”Parks went out there quickly and energetically and I am sure they will make progress and produce results as they are very determined. The poachers left buckets with cyanide mixed with salt which have been recovered. We know some vultures will have been poisoned as well, but we are not yet sure how many

"We should expect more poaching this year because people are so poor in this bad economic situation.”
The first case of cyanide poisoning of elephants in Zimbabwe emerged in 2013 and about 100 corpses were found in the south of the park by hunters who took extensive photographs of the dead animals and then helped Parks and Wildlife Management Authority rangers follow up. 

Several poachers were arrested and were sentenced up to ten years in jail.

There were several other incidents of cyanide poisoning in that area since then, but Lane and others, such as elephant counter, Colin Gillies said cyanide poisoning had declined in the last year.

“I am very sad to hear about this latest incident. We hoped the cyanide episodes were over,” said Gillies, a leading member of Zimbabwe’s wildlife community who is also an official counter of Zimabwe’s elephant population in the west of the country.

Cyanide is widely used in the gold industry in Zimbabwe where miners use cyanide concentrate to catalyze the separation of pure gold from bulk ores during the chemical purification process.

Cyanide kills the body’s cells by starving them of oxygen. In mammals, the poison is most harmful to the heart and brain—organs that depend heavily on oxygen supplies. Elephants appear to die no more then about 100 m from where they drank poisoned water or used salt licks drenched in cyanide.

Elephants, according to wildlife experts die most painful deaths from cyanide. There are tens of thousands of informal gold miners in Zimbabwe.

Tuesday, 13 June 2017

Passenger killed as tourism vehicle hits elephant, Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe

Leonard Ncube, Victoria Falls Reporter, The Chronicle

ONE person died and the other was injured when their vehicle hit an elephant in Victoria Falls, police confirmed.

The vehicle hit the jumbo which then fell onto the roof of the vehicle trapping the two.

Officer commanding Victoria Falls District Chief Superintendent Jairos Chiwona identified the deceased as John Obester Banana (44) who died on his way to Bulawayo on Friday where he had been transferred following the accident that occurred on Thursday night.

Mr Banana and the driver Mr Benard Munapo (48) employed by Pamusha Lodge, were coming from a boat cruise on the Zambezi River when the accident occurred.

It could not be established where Mr Banana hails from as police said investigations were still in progress, although his next of kin had been notified.

“I can confirm that we received a report of two people who were involved in an accident along Park Way near waterworks. Mr Benard Munapo (48) who is employed by Pamusha Lodge was driving a Toyota Regius belonging to the lodge with a passenger John Obester Banana when he hit an elephant,” said Chief Supt Chiwona.

He said Mr Munapo failed to avoid a herd of elephants resulting in the accident.
Some motorists rescued the two and rushed them to Victoria Falls District Hospital where they were admitted.

Mr Banana was transferred to Mpilo Central Hospital in Bulawayo because of his condition but died along the way.

Source: One killed as elephant falls on vehicle (13/06/17)

Sunday, 11 June 2017

Four nabbed for killing impala

Leonard Ncube in Victoria Falls

FOUR people employed at a local lodge in Victoria Falls have been arrested after they allegedly trapped an impala using a wire snare while on duty.

The four; Bongani Mathe, Elias Sibanda, both of Chinotimba as well as Ephraim Marevangepo and Trynose Mpala both of Mkhosana suburb, were arrested on Wednesday afternoon at their workplace.
The four work at Zambezi Wilderness Safaris jetty club which is run by Ilala Lodge on the edge of the Zambezi River. Mathe, Sibanda, Marevangepo and Mpala were charged with trapping an animal using a class one wire snare, which is a violation of a section of the Parks and Wildlife Act.

The four were supposed to appear in court yesterday to answer to the charge but the case was not heard as prosecutors referred the docket back to the police. Prosecutors said they had noted some anomalies in the docket and said further investigations were necessary. The four, who were represented by Mr Givemore Mvhiringi, of Mvhiringi and Partners, will be summoned to court once investigations are complete.

According to state documents, Mathe, Sibanda, Marevangepo and Mpala were on duty when an anti-poaching patrol team arrived at Zambezi Wilderness Safaris jetty club where game meat was found in a disused building. The anti-poaching team was acting on a tip off from an informer who alleged he had spotted a person carrying an impala carcass around the docking area

“When an anti-poaching team arrived at the scene, they found game meat in a box that was in a disused toilet,” read the state outline.

Source: Four nabbed for killing impala (10/06/17)

Vic Falls bridge under threat

SHIKANDA KAWANGA, Livingstone

THE Livingstone Tourism Association (LTA) has asked Government to consider closing the Victoria Falls bridge to heavy trucks following heavy flow of traffic that has potential to reduce the lifespan of the facility.

And LTA chairman Alexander Munthali expressed concern at the continued congestion caused by heavy trucks at the Victoria Falls border post in Livingstone. Speaking during a media briefing in Livingstone, Mr Munthali said the Victoria Falls border post has been turned into a truck parking yard because the queue of heavy trucks increases daily.

“We need the trucking business but we do not need it in the middle of the city or at our border entry points like Victoria Falls and Kazungula Border as is the case. “A by-pass is required to take truck traffic from the west coming from Kazungula to the north of the Harry Mwaanga Nkumbula International Airport to intersect the Lusaka road at the weighbridge area,” he said.

He said the by-pass must be a toll road which can collect revenue from trucks for road maintenance.

Mr Munthali said the iconic structure was not built to contain heavy traffic as is the case presently. “The bridge will get damaged and this will be another huge cost for the government. Besides, the recent situation at the border has already instigated different views as circulation on social media is increasing over the issue,” he said.

Source: Vic Falls bridge under threat (10/06/17)


Tuesday, 6 June 2017

AC Milan star at Victoria Falls

ITALIAN and AC Milan midfield star Andrea Poli has become the latest in a long list of world-famous celebrities who have succumbed to the allure of the Victoria Falls.

He reportedly sampled the adrenalin-rush inducing 111-metre bungee jump from the Victoria Falls bridge on Saturday.

Poli (27), who has had stints with other Italian giants Sampdoria and Inter Milan basked in the splendour of one of the Seven Wonders of the World over the weekend.

Although most of his itinerary was kept secret, Poli capped off his stay yesterday with a helicopter ride with Shearwaters Safaris for an aerial view of the awe-inspiring falls.

An official at Shearwater declined to comment on the issue, citing client confidentiality.

However, Poli was pictured disembarking from a Shearwater helicopter yesterday afternoon.

The picture has since gone viral.

He also posed for a picture with former Zifa Southern Region chairperson and football administrator Morgan Gazza Dube.

Sources yesterday said the playmaker - on holiday due to the off season in Italy - was bowled over by the imposing feast for the eyes that is the majestic Victoria Falls.

Dube said the combative midfielder yesterday told him that he was backing Real Madrid against his countrymen Juventus in the Uefa Champions league final on Saturday night.

Spanish champions Real Madrid crushed the Italians from Turin 4-1.

Dube said Poli told him:

"I don't like Juventus. I grew up in Milan and I'm a Milanian through and through. At one time I even turned down an offer from Juventus."

Poli has been likened to the great Daniele De Rosi, the tough as nails AS Roma and Italy national team defensive midfielder.

The player, who says his style of play was influenced by Liverpool legend Steven Gerrard, was at the prime tourist destination over the weekend.

It could not be established if he sampled one of the biggest thrills for overseas visitors- going close to real wild animals like lions, elephants and other game that roam the nearby Hwange National Park.

He was said to have flown to South Africa yesterday.

The dead-ball-specialist joins a star studded list of renowned celebrities who have ignored fictitious reports about Zimbabwe in Western media to avail themselves to the epoch marking experience of the Victoria Falls.

In March this year, Hollywood A-Lister and successful rapper Will Smith also visited Victoria Falls. The "fresh Prince" also bungeed off the Victoria Falls Bridge.

Professional wrestler, Shawn Michaels, movie star and former California governor Arnold Schwarzenegger, the late pop icon Michael Jackson, RnB singer Joe Thomas and the legendary R Kelly have visited the Victoria Falls and gone on game drives to see wild animals in their natural habitat.

Many more international celebrities flock incognito to Victoria Falls annually.

Source: AC Milan star at Victoria Falls (05/06/17)

Monday, 5 June 2017

Too many roadblocks not bad for tourism, says Karikoga Kaseke


VISITORS to Zimbabwe must not be afraid of the roadblocks as they are there to “maintain peace” in the country, Zimbabwe Tourism Authority (ZTA) chief executive officer, Karikoga Kaseke, said.
Kaseke said he was surprised to hear that some tourists were being scared away by the heavy ZRP presence on Zimbabwe’s roads because the police were simply maintaining peace.

The remarks by Kaseke come after the Tourism Minister Walter Mzembi told journalists last week that he was going to take the issue of heavy ZRP presence on the country’s roads to the cabinet.
Mzembi said too many roadblocks were “chasing away” tourists, adding he was also going to call for an indaba on the issue.

But the ZTA boss said ZRP was simply ensuring “safety and security”.
He said the number of tourists coming into the country had actually gone up with about 2 million visiting last year.

“Please visitors do not fear for your safety when you come to Zimbabwe; why are people saying there are too many roadblocks in the country?” Kaseke told NewZimbabwe.com.

“These road blocks, to some extent, are also guaranteeing peace. The ZRP are renowned internationally for maintaining peace when they go on peace missions, our police always come out tops,” he added.

“The Zimbabwe we have is not the Zimbabwe that they (tourists) hear of through the international media. The Zimbabwe that they are hearing about on the international media also shocks us.

“For us we cannot form our own perception for our country, the Zimbabwe that we know is the Zimbabwe that is the most peaceful country. Peace is our selling point.”

Last year, a visitor exit survey (VES) released by the Zimbabwe National Statistical Agency said harassment by ZRP constituted the highest percentage of reasons why leaving tourists would not return or recommend the country to potential visitors.

Source: Too many roadblocks not bad for tourism, says Karikoga Kaseke (05/06/17)

Saturday, 3 June 2017

Zim seeks lines of credit from Russia

From Pamela Shumba in St Petersburg, Russia

ZIMBABWE is using the 21st St Petersburg International Economic Forum to market investment opportunities in the country and to seek possible lines of credit to lubricate economic growth.
This emerged here on Thursday where three Cabinet ministers on economic portfolios, led by Vice President Phelekezela Mphoko, are attending the high profile economic forum. The country is also marketing Victoria Falls as a Special Economic Zone and a tourist destination with a target of luring Russians in an effort to boost trade and tourism in the resort town.

Finance and Economic Development Patrick Chinamasa revealed in an interview that discussions were underway to entice Russian investors and seek lines of credit from the giant country’s finance institutions. “We’re having several bilateral meetings with investors who are interested in investing in Zimbabwe. And we’re looking for investments in all sectors of the economy,” said the minister.

“We’ve also been talking to the Russian financial institutions for lines of credit to support our productive sector and infrastructure development. We’re also marketing Victoria Falls as a Special Economic Zone for tourism as well as a financial services sector. There have been airlines now flying into Victoria Falls bringing in tourists. We would also want to see Russian airlines bringing in tourists into the resort town to see one of the great wonders of the world.”

Minister Chinamasa said the country had already cleared the arrears to the International Monetary Fund and work was in progress to clear the arrears to the African Development Bank and the World Bank.

He said the forum was mainly for Russians who are looking for foreign direct investments adding that the country was keen to work with them.

“Our interest is diversified. We’re trying to make contact with Russian investors to lure them to come and invest in Zimbabwe. Our meetings have basically been bilateral and I think we’ve had good meetings.

“We’re also here in order to open up the Russian market to our agricultural products and we’re emphasising the fact that we’re a non-GMO producer and that it will be in our mutual interest to open up the Russian market for our horticultural citrus products. I think as the first step we’re encouraged by the interest that is shown in Zimbabwe,” said Minister Chinamasa.

He added that Zimbabwe was also interested in investments in the mining, manufacturing and the technology sectors. Minister Chinamasa and counterparts, Walter Chidhakwa (Mining) and Dr Mike Bimha (Industry and Commerce) were joined by a delegation of business people and technocrats who are also participating in the economic forum, which ends today.

“In the mining sector we’re talking about exploration in our diversified mineral base. We’re happy that the Russians are showing interest,” said Minister Chinamasa.

Source: Zim seeks lines of credit from Russia (03/06/17)

In Troubled Zimbabwe, Vic Falls Airport Shines

The recently commissioned Victoria Falls International Airport, which is capable of handling wide-bodied aircraft, is beginning to hold sway in the resort town, with indications human traffic will exponentially increase as new airlines begin plying the route. There are indications tourism industry operators in neighbouring Zambia, which also commissioned new radar equipment and a new terminal at the Harry Mwaanga Nkumbula (former Livingstone Airport) on December 23 last year, fear their businesses will suffer as a result.

While the Zambian airport, which claims to be closest to the Victoria Falls, has to capacity to process 700 000 passengers per year, the Victoria Falls airport now has potential to handle 900 000 more at 1,6 million passengers.

The US$150 million facelift of the Victoria Falls airport, funded by China Eximbank, which entailed construction of a new four-kilometre runway, made it possible to land wide-bodied, long-haul aircraft such as the Boeing 747 and Airbus A330.

Private sector player African Sun Limited (ASL) gave the clearest indication yet of how the new airport could be a boon for the hospital sector.

ASL chairman Mr Herbert Nkala claimed in the group’s year-end financials to December 31, 2016 weekly airline seat arrivals — measuring the number of passenger carried by airlines — are forecast to rise 40 percent. “We are further encouraged by the optimism of the tourism industry arising from the completion of the Victoria Falls Airport expansion and refurbishment, which will lead to increased foreign arrivals and improve our occupancy at our Victoria Falls properties.

“A number of airlines have expressed interest in the route, and those that have confirmed that they will fly into Victoria Falls will increase the weekly airline seat arrival by 40 percent,” said Mr Nkala in a statement accompanying the results.

Government says RwandAir will be introducing direct flights from Kigali, Rwanda sometime this month. Rwanda is considered one of the fastest growing economies in sub-Saharan Africa.

Kenyan Airways will be launching direct flights from Nairobi to Victoria Falls beginning May 18. Also SA Airlink, which was the first newly introduced airline to land at the new airport in March, is expected to introduce daily flights from Cape Town to Victoria Falls from July. Ethiopian Airlines made its first direct flight from Addis Ababa to Victoria Falls on Sunday last week.

Overall, there are expectations the new airport will tip the scale in favour of local tourism.

Encouragingly, recent statistics from the Civil Aviation Authority of Zimbabwe (Caaz) show that passenger arrivals in the resort rose to 20 305 and 17 017 in January and February this year from 17 256 and 16 188 respectively a year earlier. In fact, in January alone, an additional 3 000 passengers have been processed through the airport than in 2016.

A United States luxury and lifestyle travel magazine, Conde Nast Traveler, has since named Zimbabwe the best destination for travellers to Africa in 2017.

The US is one of the country’s biggest traditional source markets.

Bullish

Local hospitality industry players are naturally bullish the new development in the resort will drive margins and profits. Chairperson of the Hospitality Association of Zimbabwe (HAZ) Victoria Falls chapter Mr Christopher Svovah said there is a direct 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,” said Mr Svovah, who is also the Rainbow Hotel (Victoria Falls) general manager. Notwithstanding the positive developments, the Zimbabwe Council for Tourism (ZCT) says the country needs to take ownership of the new product and package it for the international market.

“For the airlines to be coming in, it is a major endorsement for the destination, especially Victoria Falls, which is a seventh wonder of the world. This means we have more capacity, easy access and what is left for us is to aggressively package the destination.

“We don’t want to have a beautiful product and fail to market it. We must take ownership of the packaging and not let our cousins across the Limpopo take all the limelight,” said Dr Taka Munyanyiwa, a consultant with ZCT.

The Victoria Falls is now connected to major regional capitals such as Lusaka, Luanda, Windhoek, Gaborone, Pretoria and Maputo.

Extortionate pricing

But experts say for Zimbabwe to get the maximum possible benefit from arrivals there is need to review the relatively high pricing models for local tourism products.

The use of a strong US dollar as a unit of exchange compared to weaker regional currencies, most particularly the Zambian kwacha, is eating into the country’s competitiveness.

Reports suggest Zambia is presently benefitting the most as it is offering accommodation for visitors who only come to the Zimbabwean side for day visits. HAZ said the challenge was to downwardly review prices.

“The challenge is the cost in Zimbabwe; as tourism players we don’t operate outside the rest of the economy. We need to appreciate that Zimbabwe is 30 percent more expensive than the region.

“The way out is to come up with tourism packages that are way below what is already there. For instance, if we can have a package of R10 000 covering a return ticket, accommodation for three nights and breakfast and one or two activities, it would be better,” said Mr Svovah.

It is believed the recently introduced 15 percent Value Added Tax on amounts spent by foreign tourists is making the situation even worse.

ZCT is presently engaging Government to keep the Zimbabwe Revenue Authority at bay after the latter slapped a US$5,3 million tax bill on two hotels in Victoria Falls last year. The 112-year-old Victoria Falls Hotel, owned by Emerged Railway Properties – a joint venture between the National Railways of Zimbabwe and Zambia Railways – and jointly managed by African Sun and Meikles Africa, owes the bulk of the bill at US$4,1 million.

Victoria Falls Lodge, a privately-owned lodge in Zambezi National Park, is said to owe Zimra US$1,3 million in unpaid taxes.

And ZCT believes it is such costs that should be revised, if not scrapped, to make Zimbabwe the tourist destination of choice.

“We currently have the debate with the Minister (of Finance Patrick Chinamasa) over zero-rating tourism products,” said Dr Munyanyiwa. – State Media

Source: In Troubled Zimbabwe, Vic Falls Airport Shines (02/04/17)

Friday, 2 June 2017

1580 km of Zimbabwe rail now dysfunctional

The National Railways of Zimbabwe has about 3512 out of 75153 wagons in service while the paratstal has 168 fleet of locomotives of which 60 are in service.

The NRZ revealed this in its introduction during the recapitalisation pre-conference meeting.

The parastatal stated that an estimated 10% of its tracks infrastructure is under cautions temporary speed restrictions.

"The automated centralised train control system which covered the network's mainline of about 1580 km is now dysfunctional while the 133km electrified section between Dabuka in Gweru and Msasa in Harare was vandalised resulting in total suspension of electric locomotives," said the NRZ.

The parastatal needs $400 million for the initial recapitalisation out of the $2 billion needed for the overhaul rehabilitation of the institution.

Source: 1580 km of Zimbabwe rail now dysfunctional (01/06/17)

More: Zimbabwe rail network 'a death trap' (27/08/14)