By Shingirai Vambe
THE holiday industry, that was now on the recovery path following 24 months of closure, due to the novel corona virus pandemic, Covid-19, faces yet another bureaucratic set-back from the country’s Law making and Policy frameworks.
During the recently held assessment workshop in the resort city of Victoria Falls, players in the industry deliberated on the causes that kept chopping tourists stay in hotels. Averagely, tourists are no longer staying in Zimbabwe for more than three days or more, as it used to be in yester-years.
A number of prohibiting factors were raised during the engagement indaba between players, the Binder Dijke Otte (BDO) and Zimbabwe Tourism Authority (ZTA).
The opening of the Kazungula Border Post, approximately 80km from Botswana to Victoria Falls, is by way, a chance for authorities to self-introspect and look on the pros and cons of the tourism industry in Zimbabwe.
Players said their main challenge was the poor road network to facilities which is a major barrier.
The Minister of Transport and Infrastructural Development, Felix Mhona told this publication that the layout plan is now in place and consultants have submitted all the paper-work for the road to be rehabilitated.
Victoria Falls has received quite a number of visits locally, mainly as a conference destination.
Locals can’t afford to take families out even for lunch.
A hotel stay is now only found in dream land as poor salaries and high costs of goods and services is afforded by a few, who, at most are supported on company executive packages.
The high prices in the resort town is beyond the reach of many who do not make the executive grades.
Players in the sector told the Post On Sunday Newspaper that license fees which are a requisite for operators are also prohibitive. A downward review of the fees will help grow the domestic tourism.
“Prices of accommodation, meals and activities are determined by other driven costs of fees being paid to government, parastatals and institutions responsible for various players to operate,” said members who were part of the indaba.
Majority of tourists now find it cheaper to spend days in Livingstone, Zambia or Botswana, then drive to Victoria Falls for day activities and experience the majestic Mosi oa’Tunya showers.
Another destination that was cited as a great must visit was the Gonharezhou National Park. However, the same constraints were noted at this great game park.
In recent weeks, travellers who wanted to attend conferences in Vic Falls had challenges getting there by air, as all flights were booked. Prices are not stable and can go up any day, thereby making planning impossible.
Due to limited number of planes servicing the Harare, Bulawayo and Victoria Falls route, only Fast-jet and Air Zimbabwe are the two to rely on, hence the constraints to choice make the Victoria Falls holiday unattractive.
Efforts to get comments from the Ministry of Transport were fruitless, as there was no response to questions sent.
Tourism players in Victoria Falls speak on the bad state ofnthe roads to tourism destinations in Zimbabwe, Road from Bulawayo to Victoria is a major example. @ZtaUpdates @ZimTradeAlerts @METHI_Zimbabwe @CrestaSprayview @tourismzimbabwe @MinistryofTID @MhonaFelix @ZNCCNational pic.twitter.com/p1T4j6j46U
— Post On Sunday (@PostonSunday1) June 21, 2022
With the global economic crisis from the Russia-Ukraine conflict resulting in hikes of fuel and goods, provision of services is not spared.
Services are going up in Zimbabwe daily, and a robust approach to ways and ease of doing business is required in the face of world crisis.
With the Sanganai/Hlanganani Tourism Expo around the corner, we also failed to get any response from the ZTA CEO Winnie Muchanyuka on the strategies in place to attract investment and growth for tourism players in Zimbabwe.
It is visible that there is need for more players in the air space as service of the local routes is still open to more players.
More players create competition resulting in reduced travel costs.
The cost of getting into the Falls is US$7 per head, a fee that was said to be prohibitive for locals. A proposal has been made for players to have a uniform fee structure with Zim Parks.
Majority of local people who have visited the Majestic Victoria Falls, have managed to do so after having visited the city in line of duty, conference and or workshop.
An air ticket from Harare to Victoria Falls costs between US$140 and $180 one way depending on the pressure and time of booking, while driving can be adventurous, the cost of fuel can be $200 for a return trip.
The deplorable state of the road from Bulawayo leaves one with no choice but to board a bus which travels overnight leaving nothing to admire but to sleep and snore till sunrise as the bus pulls in the resort town.
Meanwhile, small players are coming up with competitive and affordable packages and state-of the-art facilities which surpass hotel standards in Victoria Falls.
Licensing fees which are exorbitant must be reviewed downwards.
One needs to fork out US$60 and $80 per night while hotels cost between $110 and $160 per night bed and breakfast. Across the Zambezi, neighboring Zambia, a similar facility costs between US$30 and $50.
The nearest Protea Hotel in Livingstone costs US$50 to US$80 per night, inclusive of bed and breakfast. These are the same rates in Francistown, Botswana.
However, with the paltry salaries Zimbabweans are getting on a monthly basis, it is highly impossible to save or budget for a holiday with a family as the salaries range between US$50 and $150 dollars per month.
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