The Zimbabwe Independent

Vic Falls gears up for Xmas, with a focus on local, regional travel


Chri stmas is coming and so are hundreds of holidaymak­ers to Zimbabwe’s premier holiday destinatio­n, the Victoria Falls.

The country’s prime resort town was last week conferred with city status by President Emmerson Mnangagwa.

After what has been gruelling year for the tourism industry and the town as a whole, there is finally a buzz back in the air. Hotels are reporting combined occupancy levels of around 80% for Christmas and slightly lower occupancy for New Years with bookings still coming in.

“It is just great to see our staff back at work and the lights back on, it has been too long,” explains a hotelier who has recently opened his doors. Victoria Falls has a buzz back.”

With ongoing lockdowns in main source markets there are still relatively few foreign tourists in town, with most of the clientele being local and regional holiday makers. While this is far from the old normal, there have been some positives to come out of 2020, as Jamie Henson, manager at Shongwe Lookout Guest Lodge puts it.

“Zimbabwean­s have been amazingly supportive this year. We have all slashed our prices, allowing locals to take advantage of some great deals, and explore their own backyard. Many of our Zimbabwean guests were bringing their kids to see Victoria Falls for the first time. To me, that is very special.”

Many local guests have been overwhelme­d with what their own country has to offer in terms of accommodat­ion, wildlife, scenery and tourism activities on offer.

“This is my first time to Victoria Falls since 1996,” one resident from Harare said.

“We had no idea how much there is to see and do and that there were such nice places to stay. We were in Durban last year for Christmas, but this is just so amazing.”

Despite all the challenges this year, hoteliers have learnt the importance of looking after the local market, and many Zimbabwean­s have discovered just how beautiful and wild the country is that they call home. That, at least, is something to really cheer about.

There are currently flights from Harare and Johannesbu­rg on budget airline Fastjet

Ethiopian Airlines has not stopped flights to the Victoria Falls and Kenyan Airways resumed in December.

If you are looking to get respite from the January cold and wet weather of Europe, you connect to Victoria Falls with Ethiopian Airlines and you can do your seven-day safari, spend three days with the activities in the Victoria Falls and then add on a trip to the Cape for four days. Or if you fly direct to Cape Town and use Kenyan Airways to connect up and back from the Cape to the Victoria Falls for the activities and safari after drinking wine in the Cape, you can find flights that will cost you US$1 200 in total.

Other options coming on line include flights via Johannesbu­rg.

If you then find the right travel agent, you can book your 14 days on the ground for an entry level of US$100 per person per night sharing and have money included in that for meals and activities.

So for budget close to US$2 600 you can visit Cape Town four days and Victoria Falls for three days and seven safari days.

Of course you can also spend more than this if you would like to splash out a bit, but the fact is the specials out there are amazing.

We can put you in touch with a travel specialist who can assist if you contact us at info@victoriafa­

Meanwhile, the United Kingdom government’s Foreign Travel Advice to Zimbabwe is misleading for potential travellers by informing them that they will be required to isolate for 14 days on arrival.

Actual situation as is taking place with guests that are arriving currently is that a visitor to Zimbabwe must have a Covid-19 test certificat­e taken no more than 48 hours prior to arrival in the country and with a negative result. With this certificat­e the visitor is allowed free and unregulate­d access to travel within the country immediatel­y as long as other standard visa regulation­s are met.

If the visitor arrives without this certificat­e they will be required to take a Covid-19 test at the airport the results for which will be available within four hours.

The UK travel advice states the following as: “People arriving in Zimbabwe are subject to a 14-day quarantine period. If you arrive with a negative Covid-19 test issued within 48 hours of arrival, or test negative at the airport, you may self-isolate at a designated address. If you test positive for Covid-19 at the airport, you will have to quarantine in a government-approved facility.”

A local tour operator stated: “The concern is badly worded or erroneous travel advice given by an authority of a country that is such an important source market will have a negative impact on the recovery of tourism to the country and to the region as a whole.”

It seems that the Victoria Falls community have been able to weather the Covid-19 storm so far and with a vaccine in the pipe line the future looks bright for this vibrant destinatio­n.

 ??  ?? buzz is finally back in the air in Victoria Falls.
buzz is finally back in the air in Victoria Falls.
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