Prosper Ndlovu in Victoria Falls
THE country’s prime resort destination, Victoria Falls, leads the pack in attracting investment into the tourism sector, which has attracted close to US$500 million since the coming in of the New Dispensation in 2017.

While other parts of the country also present huge tourism potential riding on their rich natural and historic heritage, Victoria Falls alone has attracted about US$200 million investments so far this year.

This emerged during President Mnangagwa’s tour of the tourism facilities here where he officially launched the National Tourism Recovery and Growth Strategy. The President also commissioned the 19-suite luxurious Mbano Manor Hotel built using local funding. He also visited the massive 146-room Palm Lodge facility, which is still under construction and is estimated to cost close to US$24 million.

Despite the disruptive Covid-19 pandemic on the economy, President Mnangagwa said he was excited that tourism infrastructure projects in Victoria Falls were progressing well. The visiting delegation observed that at Palm River Hotel workers were busy building while Mbano Manor Hotel has been completed and is ready for business.

“It is encouraging that despite the Covid-19 pandemic having had negative impact on other economic sectors, investments in the tourism sector here in Victoria Falls, are progressing well.

“I have been told by the Minister of Environment and Tourism (Mangaliso Ndlovu), that currently investments here in Victoria Falls his year are around US$200 million,” said President Mnangagwa while officiating at Mbano Manor Hotel.

“I am informed that at least six other hotels and lodges in Victoria Falls are being upgraded and expanded.

“This is applauded and will increase our capacity to host not only tourists, but also meetings, conferences and exhibitions.”

Minister Ndlovu, concurred in his address saying the tourism sector, and Victoria Falls as a destination in particular, has made great strides in terms of investment.

“The estimated value of tourism investments in 2018 and 2019 were US$100 million and US$193 million, respectively. This is inclusive of greenfield investments, upgrading and refurbishments of existing tourism facilities,” he said.

“Since the dawn of the new era in November 2017, we have witnessed an increase in new tourism facilities around the country and Mbano Manor Hotel, which is a premium luxury boutique hotel, is a new luxury offering to this growing list.

“We are expecting more and more new facilities to be opened very soon in Victoria Falls, as there is commendable tourism related infrastructure development taking place in this town.”

The launch of Mbano Manor Hotel coincided with the launch of the National Tourism Recovery and Growth Strategy by President Mnangagwa.

Tourism infrastructure development has been highlighted as the backbone for the growth of the sector and the economy at large.

In that regard Minister Ndlovu said his ministry was grateful for the support rendered to the tourism players by Government through investment incentives such as duty exemption facilities.

With the anticipated increase in tourist arrivals after Covid-19 pandemic, he said an increase in accommodation room stock is inevitable.

“Of interest about developments in the tourism sector, is that more and more Zimbabweans are now involved in big and upmarket investments, complementing Government efforts to encourage domestic investments and leveraging on available resources,” he said.

“With this state-of-the-art facility, there is no doubt that we now have great potential to unlock a valuable market which has not been taped over the years.”

Riding on enabling infrastructure such as the new Victoria Falls International Airport, the country expects international airlines from major source markets servicing the resort town.

Stakeholders in the tourism sector have also said that the renewed confidence in destination Zimbabwe through Government’s international engagement efforts is expected to spur tourist arrivals, hence an increase in tourism investment by both local and foreign investors cannot be overemphasised.

Given the need for more investments, industry experts have also appealed to pension funds, insurance companies and other institutional investors to also consider investing in tourism facilities and infrastructure with assurance that such investments have a fair return in the medium to long term.