from DANIEL JONES in Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe
VICTORIA FALLS – VICTORIA Falls needs significant to increase room capacity and transform the city into a competitive tourism hub.
Currently, Victoria Falls has more than 2 000 rooms, which falls far short of its desired capacity.
The shortfall persists despite President Emmerson Mnangagwa recently commissioning three facilities, namely Nkosi Guest Lodge, Zambezi Boutique Hotel and The Palm River Hotel.
These facilities added a total of 105 rooms to Victoria Falls, which now gives the city a room stock of 2 300 rooms.
“Available data indicates that we still fall short of room capacity,” said Environment, Climate, Tourism and Hospitality Industry Deputy Minister, Barbara Rwodzi.
“We still desperately need to establish a 5 000-seater convention centre in this region if we are to fulfill our goal of transforming Victoria Falls into a renowned Meetings Incentives Conferences Exhibitions (MICE) tourism hub,” Rwodzi said.
Government is courting investors to develop Masue City on the outskirts of the current Victoria Falls city where it intends to build a convention centre with five-star hotels, conference facilities and other high end services.
Wengayi Nhau, Tourism Business Council of Zimbabwe president, concurred there was a need to invest more in hotel facilities and increase room capacity.
He said despite being the country’s tourism capital, Victoria Falls lags behind Harare and Bulawayo in terms of room capacity.
However, the contribution of Victoria Falls at country level is significant.
“Zimbabwe has about 6 000 rooms. This could appear much but it depends on periods and seasons,” Nhau said.
“You would notice that during Zimbabwe International Trade Fair rooms get finished in Bulawayo. It is our view that a gradual increase in capacity maybe to levels of about 10 000 beds for the country will put us in a fair position.”
By having insufficient number of rooms in Zimbabwe is not fulfilling its tourism potential.
“If we are to bring tourism to its fullest capacity we need much more rooms,” Nhau added.
Some enterprising residents in Victoria Falls end up converting their houses into bed-and-breakfast (BnBs) facilities to cash in on demand for rooms during peak periods.
Some guests, especially locals, prefer to book in the makeshift lodges because it is cheaper compared to conventional hotels and lodges.
– CAJ News