Council to turn Vic Falls into ‘little Las Vegas’ Victoria Falls. . .a thriving tourism industry can help boost economic growth.

Leonard Ncube Victoria Falls Reporter

VICTORIA Falls City Council is planning to transform the resort city into a world-class destination by turning it into the “Little Vegas of Zimbabwe.”

Las Vegas is a sprawling neon-washed city in the sunny desert State of Nevada in the United States.

The US city bills itself as the entertainment capital of the World and is famous for its luxurious and extremely large casino hotels.

With over 2,9 million visitors as of 2019, Las Vegas is the sixth-most visited city in the US, after New York City, Miami, Los Angeles, Orlando, and San Francisco.

With unique features such as the world’s largest waterfall, Mosi-oa-Tunya, on the mighty Zambezi River, and surrounded by national parks, Victoria Falls is a rare gem with vast tourism potential.

Victoria Falls attained city status in December 2019 making it a competitive destination. The subsequent massive infrastructure growth augurs well with the local authority plans for a Little Vegas.

The ongoing developments dovetail with Government plans to transform Victoria Falls into a conferencing capital, with a multi-purpose convention centre, top-notch facilities such as five-star hotels, a medical centre, a university, the Zimbabwe Defence Forces camp, and sporting facilities among others.

The growth taking place in Victoria Falls is within the framework of the Victoria Falls-Hwange-Binga Special Economic Zone, which seeks to integrate the broader tourism economy with agriculture and mining as well as the rich natural environment to promote eco-tourism activities.

Tourism is one of the country’s major foreign currency earners and employs thousands of people in the value chain.

Under the Second Republic, Victoria Falls continues to attract increased investments in new facilities as evidenced by the number of hotels and lodges being constructed.

In 2020, the President launched the National Tourism Recovery and Growth Strategy anchored on Zimbabwe’s vision to be a prime international tourist destination based on the judicious and sustainable exploitation of the unique assets of nature, culture, heritage, and the built environment.

The strategy is informed by the Government’s Vision 2030 to become an upper middle-income economy characterised by increased investment, and decent jobs.

The high growth target of this strategy seeks to achieve a US$5 billion tourism economy and Victoria Falls is a strategic destination whose operations have a huge bearing on the attainment of that target.

The city and its environs is the gateway into Zimbabwe and developments, especially in the tourism sector, help build a positive image of the country as well as position Victoria Falls as a world-class destination.

Victoria Falls is a strategic destination whose operations have a huge bearing on the attainment of Vision 2030.

Guided by the national vision, Victoria Falls City Council has big plans for the destination to make it more competitive.

Speaking to stakeholders recently, Victoria Falls City economy development and marketing manager Mr Ngqabutho Moyo said opportunities that are in Victoria Falls can make the city operate round the clock.

He said there are opportunities for investors in tourism and hospitality, sports and entertainment among others.

Mr Moyo said the local authority, by being the home city of Victoria Falls, is working on strategies to lure investments to diversify the city’s economy.

“We learnt a lesson during Covid-19 when the city was literally shut down. So, we thought as a city we needed to diversify our products and include sports, medical, cultural, and other tourism products,” he said.

“We want to turn the destination into a family and 24-hour city like Las Vegas. It is also our hope that we will reach that stage.”

According to the 2022 census report, Victoria Falls has a population of 40 000 people.

During peak periods in Victoria Falls, nightlife has remained low except on days when there are annual major events such as the Carnival, Econet Marathon and Mapopoma Festival, which is expected this week.

Conferences have in the past helped ignite nightlife in the resort city as delegates patronise night spots.

Victoria Falls, which is in Hwange District and shares some of the facilities with Hwange Rural District Council.

Victoria Falls Council is courting investors to build a state-of-the-art civic centre to house the council offices, a five-star hotel and other facilities as part of promoting the destination.

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