from DANIEL JONES in Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe
VICTORIA FALLS – THE recent lighting of the Victoria Falls Bridge as part of celebrations of children’s rights is poised to attract tourists to the iconic facility.
This is crucial in the wake of restrictions against Southern African countries after the emergence of the new variant of the COVID-19.
The United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) brought hope to the tourism industry when it recently switched on blue lights at the bridge, taking after its corporate colours as the main agency responsible for providing humanitarian and developmental aid to children worldwide.
It is celebrating its 75th anniversary.
Victoria Falls was the perfect venue for the celebrations and the lighting of the bridge was the height of the proceedings.
Telecel, the mobile network operator first lit the bridge in 2013 ahead of the UN World Tourism Organisation General Assembly (UNWTO), which was co-hosted by Livingstone in Zambia and Victoria Falls.
The lights were switched on during the night.
Tourists would have dinner at the Victoria Falls Terrace Restaurant, which has a direct view of the bridge.
Anald Musonza, the Hospitality Association of Zimbabwe local chair, said any event, such as the bridge’s lighting, that entices tourists at this stage was welcome.
“These are trying times for tourism and hospitality industry. We need any attraction that can bring tourists,” he said.
“The bridge has become attractive and we look forward to it drawing huge crowds during the festive season,” Musonza said.
He said the latest travel ban by United Kingdom (UK), United States (UK) and European Union (EU) was a huge blow to what had been a promising recovery for the sector.
The local government has also imposed new form of restrictions to curb a fourth wave of the pandemic.
“We were foreseeing more people coming but now we might have more job losses because of a gloomy festive season as a result. We appeal for help to facilitate tourism to ensure economic survival of our businesses, riding on such developments as decoration of the bridge,” Musonza said.
Clement Mukwasi, Shearwater Adventures spokesperson, said the Victoria Falls Bridge is a central attraction in the industry.
“The bridge is strategic especially because part of it is on the no-man’s land,” Mukwasi said.
“Tourists throng it to watch the rapids from the top, view the Falls from a frontal view and also to enjoy other activities and now with the colourful lighting this will enhance interest but we are mindful of the latest restrictive developments,” he said.
Costantino Chiwenga, the Zimbabwe vice president led lighting of the bridge.
The bridge joins the United States’ Empire State Building, the Greek Acropolis and the Egyptian Pyramids in lighting blue.
The deck arch bridge has a rich iconic history which on its own attract people.
Guided tours of the bridge are popular.
On the Zambian side there is a small museum about the Bridge which is free to enter and has a cafe selling refreshments.
Also popular on the bridge is the 111 metre bungee jump, bungee swing and zip-line.
The facility situated on no man’s land between Zimbabwe and Zambia is the oldest property in town, together with sister facility Victoria Falls Hotel, which is also owned by Emerged Railways Properties.
A brainchild of Cecil John Rhodes under his vision of a Cape to Cairo railway scheme, the 198-metre long and 128-metre high bridge was built in 1904 and completed in 1905.
Cleverland Bridge and Engineering Company of England was contracted to build the Victoria Falls Bridge for £70 000.
– CAJ News