New hotels take shape as Vic Falls enjoys tourism boom
Victoria Falls is witnessing major infrastructure development, a major boost to the country’s tourism sector which aims to achieve an annual US$5 billion tourism economy by 2025.
Under the Second Republic, the city continues to attract increased investments in new facilities. The tourism industry is one of the key foreign currency earners in the country and employs thousands of people along the value chain.
Tourism operators have described the developments as a sign of growing investor confidence in the country in response to comprehensive economic reforms being implemented by President Mnangagwa.
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 far more decent jobs.
The high growth target of this strategy seeks to achieve the annual 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 are the gateway into tourist 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.
The Bulawayo Bureau yesterday observed several structures being built. Most of the development is being implemented by local businesses from different sectors of the economy who have decided to venture into tourism.
There is a three-story hotel under construction in the central business district and it is at roof level.
A top lawyer from Harare is implementing the facility, which is set to have a shopping complex and three separate structures each with three floors.
Along Reynard Road in the city’s low-density suburb, a US$1,8 million 36-roomed hotel is taking shape with the apartments having already been roofed. The project is being implemented by a local businessman and farmer Mr Knowledge Dzimbanhete.
There are several lodges concentrated along Old Kazungula Road where construction work is underway.
One facility with more than 10 rooms is almost complete including another with several apartments and it is already for opening.
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.
In an interview, Mr Dzimbanhete said he hopes to open the hotel next year.
“This has been about perseverance and confidence. We are bringing in a 38-roomed hotel which should be open
in April next year. Upon completion, about US$1,8 million would have been invested into facility,” he said.
President Mnangagwa conferred city status to Victoria Falls in December 2019, making it the youngest city in the country and a fertile ground for investment.
Plans are underway to build Masue City, which will have a convention and conference centre, five-star hotels, medical facilities and shopping malls to make Victoria Falls a conference capital.
In 2020 the Second Republic established the Victoria Falls Stock Exchange, the only United States dollar-denominated bourse in the region as part of efforts to implement the special economic zone and the counter has since attracted 14 listings in its first three years.
Government wants to transform Victoria Falls into a little Vegas with state-of the art facilities and infrastructure that is commensurate with a city. This includes establishing firms outside the tourism sector, with state-of-the-art medical facilities also coming in to promote medical tourism.
Several hotels including Palm River Hotel, Mbano Manor Hotel, Zambezi Boutique, Nkosi, Guest Lodge, Mpala Jena and others were built during the first five years of the Second Republic.
Government has also been upgrading transport infrastructure to facilitate travel either by road or air into Victoria Falls where a number of airlines are also angling on flying into the destination.
Tourism Business Council of Zimbabwe president Mr Wengayi Nhau welcomed the new developments, saying they speak to sustainable tourism, job creation, foreign currency earning and increase in room stock.
“When there is no confidence in a destination there is no need for people to put the amount of investment we are seeing. This shows confidence and interest in Victoria Falls and as a tourism sector we applaud the positive developments that we are seeing,” he said.
“However, we want to balance with sustainability and make sure the developments are sustainable in all areas of environment, inclusiveness, involvement of community, diversity in terms of more people getting involved in tourism and job creation.”
Mr Nhau said there is a huge a room deficit in Victoria Falls hence the new developments will help address the challenges.