Victoria Falls looks set to become the country’s youngest city soon, a fitting status for the nation’s tourism capital.
On Wednesday, Parliament endorsed the Ministry of Local Government and Public Works recommendation for the municipality to be accorded city status. Following that endorsement, Local Government and Public Works Minister, July Moyo will approach President Mnangagwa to consider formally proclaiming Victoria Falls as a city. Ahead of the Wednesday parliamentary approval, Minister Moyo had, in terms of the Urban Councils Act, sent a commission to the resort town to look into a number of issues relating to the local authority’s application for a higher ranking. The commission that visited the town three years ago had recommended the granting of the status in a report they submitted to Minister Moyo.
When their turn came in terms of the Act on Wednesday, MPs agreed that Victoria Falls deserved city status.
We quoted the minister saying yesterday:
“Following receipt of an application by Victoria Falls Municipality for upgrading to city status, I appointed a commission to investigate the suitability of the council to be elevated to a city status. Upon my receipt of the report from the commission in December 2017, I studied the recommendation contained therein and am now satisfied that the fast growing local authority and tourist epicentre of Zimbabwe should be awarded city status. I now move a motion for the adoption of the report so that we can proclaim Victoria Falls Municipality as a city. I therefore call upon Parliament to resolve and recommend to the President to proclaim the municipality as a city and thereby Victoria Falls assume the status of an eminent tourism city in the world.”
He explained that an upgrade to city status would enable Victoria Falls to attract greater investment while giving residents and the local authority a sense of prestige.
Victoria Falls deserves that upgrade given the progress it has had over the years and its centrality to the nation and Sadc region’s tourism industry.
The town has seen much investment in recent years as well. It already has a state-of-the-art international airport.
Many cities in the country do not have an airport that can compete with the Victoria Falls International Airport in terms of size. Also, the town is naturally the pivot of the Victoria Falls Area Tourism Development Plan and the recently approved special economic zone (SEZ) corridor which comprises Masue Stateland, Batoka City, Mlibizi, Binga Centre, Sijalila, Hwange Hinterland and Gwayi Shangani resort, which all seek to improve tourism in and around Victoria Falls. Government also plans to build about 30 000 houses at Masue as part of the Victoria Falls Development Plan.
On Friday last week, the Government launched the Victoria Falls Stock Exchange which will trade in foreign currency thereby enhancing the town’s attractiveness and also lure investors.
Government has also unveiled a plan to make Victoria Falls the country’s conferencing capital and plans to build Masue Satellite Town which will have a multi-purpose convention centre and state-of-the-art facilities such as five-star hotels, medical centre, a university, a Zimbabwe Defence Forces camp and sporting facilities among other facilities.
Victoria Falls has hosted several international events such as the Commonwealth Heads of Government meeting and United Nations World Tourism Organisation General Assembly. It has a good number of five-star hotels and lodges as well as countless smaller hotels and lodges.
Many cities do not have the impressive record and infrastructure that Victoria Falls already has as a town.
We therefore look forward to the Government conferring city status on the town. That status would further cement Victoria Falls’ position as the country and region’s tourism capital. It will give Victoria Falls a bigger name. Big names and big brands are great in tourism business. Furthermore, as Minister Moyo said, that status should help Victoria Falls attract more investment.
Of course, the investment that we hope will flow into Victoria Falls is not the kind of investment that we are used to; the investment we see and need in Harare and Bulawayo, for example. For Victoria Falls, it will be, as it has been, responsible investment that does not threaten that which makes Victoria Falls the tourism capital of the country and Sadc. Victoria Falls is a world famous tourism destination because it has been kept as natural as possible.