Victoria Falls regaining lustre, survey indicates
from DANIEL JONES in Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe
VICTORIA FALLS – VICTORIA Falls is returning to its glory days nicked by the COVID-19 pandemic.
That is if results of a recent survey are anything to go by.
The latest report on Zimbabwe’s tourism capital report shows that confidence for booking in the destination rose to 74 percent last year.
The confidence levels might be lower than the 85 percent before the pandemic but significantly higher than 50 percent in 2020.
According to the annual Future Traveller Sentiment Survey, conducted by the ‘We Are Victoria Falls’ initiative, for 2021, a majority of respondents comprising local, regional and international travel agents believe it is now safe to travel to Victoria Falls.
“Confidence in booking destination Victoria Falls has risen to 74 percent in 2021,” the initiative stated.
“This figure compares to 85 percent during the pre-pandemic year of 2019 and the COVID-19 slump of just 50 percent in 2020,” reads part of the report.
It identified relaxation of lockdown restrictions and rules on entry, pricing awareness, flexibility of terms and conditions and ease of access as key priority areas that travelers showed concern about.
The report states that a majority of travelers to Victoria Falls post-pandemic lockdowns will be motivated by nature and will travel in smaller groups.
These will mainly be older couples and multi-generational families with their older children.
They will book in boutique hotels compared to safari-camps and branded properties as has been the general norm with international clients.
Almost all surveyed agents reported that connecting with nature will be most in demand while 80 percent said clients will seek a wilderness setting.
Victoria Falls has a wide basket of products, infrastructure and activities fitting all kinds of clients.
There is need to increase direct flights presence into Victoria Falls, the report however states.
“Agents reported access and lack of direct flights as a major obstacle,” reads the report.
The tourism industry is pinning its hopes on enquiries from various international airlines interested in flying directly to the resort city.
Lufthansa’s Eurowings Discover has scheduled its maiden landing in Victoria Falls via Namibia on March 30.
The Airports Company of Zimbabwe (ACZ) is on record saying a number of airlines were making inquiries.
We Are Victoria Falls” is an independent public-private partnership initiative representing the tourism community of Victoria Falls.
It was formed under the direction of the Ministry of Environment, Climate Change, Tourism and Hospitality Industry with support from the International Finance Corporation.
Shelly Cox, “We are Victoria Falls Initiative” consultant, said the renewed confidence is a result of government and private sector interventions aimed at reviving the tourism industry.
These include the massive vaccination programme rolled out by the government.
It saw Victoria Falls becoming the first city to reach herd immunity in Zimbabwe and one of the safest world tourism destinations.
In September last year the Pristine Victoria Falls Society was formed to transform Victoria Falls into the cleanest city in Africa and a green destination.
The tourism operators believe the recent reopening of borders will further boost confidence.
– CAJ News