Victoria Falls no place for the poor

HARARE - So what is your idea of a holiday in Victoria Falls?
Bungee jumping on the famous Victoria Falls Bridge, a helicopter ride and maybe water rafting in the mighty Zambezi River, well it is easier said than done as the charges are far beyond the reach of many.

Take this family of seven, instead of flying high and seeing the smoke that thunders (Mosi O Tunya) from the skies, it ended up only strolling in the tourism hub because it could not afford the charges.

Many locals, including those who live in the precincts of the majestic Victoria Falls, cannot afford even to visit the tourist hot-spots and can only but crane their necks in awe as choppers fly just above tree tops carrying those from foreign lands who have the wherewithal.

Zimbabwe’s magnificent tourism destinations remain beyond the reach for many who can only see them on magazine covers or television.

According to Zimbabwe Council for Tourism chief executive officer Paul Matamisa, taxes and the dollarisation of the economy impacted greatly on the pricing of tourism commodities.

“In terms of growing our arrivals, we want to help the operators. The destination is seen and known to be an expensive destination. It might not be just accommodation, it’s the packaging of the total tourism product, which is impacted by the value chain,” Matamisa said.

Focusing on Victoria Falls, most of the adventures are over $100 with bungee jumping at the bridge costing a whopping $160, a bridge swing going for $160, while a tandem bridge swing is $240 and a while full day river-boarding and rafting goes for $195.

A walk with the lions or an elephant safari goes for $150, while just to drive by the game costs a cool 100 bucks.

Most decent hotels and lodges in Victoria Falls cost around $300 per night, which is what is being offered as a holiday package for four days full of activities at a Malawi resort.

Thus compared with other choice destinations in Africa, the charges in Victoria Falls are a little over the top
Take Zanzibar in Tanzania for example, holiday packages are around $900 per person, including return flights and ground transfers.

“It starts from government and municipalities, they are at the first level of the chain, then we have manufacturing and retail and so forth. All these costs will keep piling and tourism, where it stands in we are at the end of the business chain and below tourism the people who are impacted by us are the consumers,” Matamisa told the Daily News on Sunday.

“All these costs that keep piling on you, you have to offload them to the person who is using your service, who is the consumer and it makes the destination expensive.”

He said there was need for a national effort to solve the crisis.

“We also have to look at where we are coming from our pricing system in 2009 when we dollarised; we didn’t manage that transition well. People were in the mode of the Zimbabwe dollar era. There were talking of trillion dollars and when the US dollar came into effect, the mode was still there.

“There has not been an effort to arrest that situation and it’s a national issue, it’s not just tourism that was affected,” said Matamisa.

In a previous comment on the pricing of tourism products in Zimbabwe, the responsible minister, Walter Mzembi said: “If the private sector does not come up with the regional price index then we are not competitive. A tourist destination should be competitive, prices make the destination competitive.

“I was in Egypt on my Christmas vacation at Sharm El Sheikh and I met tourists who were on holiday using a package of $700 to a minimum of $300, including return air tickets and reservations but you do not find such here in Zimbabwe,” said Mzembi.

Comments (1)

I went to the FAlls last November. Its outrageously expensive. A 500ml bottle of water going for $2, a pint of beer going for $3, a 2hr diner cruise going for $80/ person just to mention a few. Thought it would be wise to have different rates, like local, regional and international just like what SA does than to bracket everyone. Good piece of information Mr. journalist

Sithole - 20 April 2016

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