Tourism in Zimbabwe and the World Cup

by www.zimbabwesituation.com

I read an article recently quoting the CEO of one of Zimbabwe’s largest tourism groups which said Zimbabwe could expect 40 000 visitors as a spin off from the World Cup Soccer in June of this year.

In the same publication the Zimbabwe Council for Tourism has stated that the country’s tourism sector is expected to increase its contribution to the Gross Domestic Product by 400 % !!

Well last week we took a little spin up to Hwange and the Vic Falls to see for ourselves.

The roads were quiet, there were two tolls between Bulawayo and the Falls at $1.00 each and several roadblocks.

The police officers at the road blocks were very civil in general except for the one at the Dete/ Kamativi crossroads.They have always been a militant , belligerent bunch and their commanding officer needs
to have a quiet word in their ear !!

With tourism becoming a major player once again in the economy, these sweet folk need to be made aware that they need to be civil to ordinary people in the vehicles passing through their check point !!

Police check points are great if they are looking after speeding cars, unroadworthy cars and drunken drivers but why be rude, objectionable and harsh to a car load of tourists for absolutely no reason at all ?

Our first stop was that magical place Hwange Safari Lodge. Ah ….many evocative memories were resurrected as this was one of our prime destinations as young marrieds, where the fabulous waterhole is in
full view of the rooms and the gardens, and the piece de resistance was a visit to sundowner boma on stilts.

Sadly we comprised three people of the six in total who were visiting the Safari Lodge that night ! The staff admitted to a ten percent average occupancy for the last ten years ! A two hundred bed hotel, right on the edge of one of the most glorious game parks in the world, and we were six people in total to dinner !!

The dinner was excellent, the service was fabulous, the rooms were most appealing in their decor and undoubtedly acceptable except for the zircon but that should not affect the World Cup visitors as June is a relatively “cool” month in Hwange.

The little bar on stilts was sad as it was not being used and judging by the smell the baboons had obviously taken up residence !! Solution – reintroduce the famous Flame Lily Holidays, re-instate the triangular flights between The Falls, Hwange and Kariba and make Zimbabwe one of the great tourist destinations it once was.

Our game parks knock spots off the Kruger as there is not the plethora of safari companies working the park. We have more lions, elephant, buck and cats and we are still wild, desolate and unspoiled, the real
and most authentic way to see nature in the wild.

Our next stop was the Victoria Falls and here we stayed at the Lokuthula Lodges. They too were fabulous. Beautifully decorated, wide open to the night sounds, well protected by every means available for the tourists ‘ safety and comfort.

The Falls were certainly not busy, but they were spectacular. The water level unseasonably high, we were drenched at the end of our pilgrimage from the Giant Baobab tree, past Dr Livingstone and down past the most amazing of all the world’s natural wonders, as far as
the bungi jumping off the falls bridge.

The Vic Falls tourist authority has the touts well curbed, there is such peace, tranquillity, and security, and yet once again “no tourists”

The TIPs “Tour inclusive Parties”as the tour operators call them were quite well patronized. and buses carrying passengers to and from the hotels and the airport and to and from their various inclusive tours, were plentiful.

Well done to the handful of tour operators who have taken the initiative to try and bring tourism back to the country, but there is room for lots lots more !!

The fabulous shops were empty of customers and yet full to bursting with excellent quality hand made crafts.

Weddings have become quite popular at the Falls and the Vic Falls Safari Lodge was alive with an ebullient Irish wedding party, but there were literally hundreds of rooms, in several top class hotels, at not bad prices, waiting to be occupied once we get our good reputation back after a lost Zimbabwean decade.

The famous sundowner cruise was just the same and then the dash to the Boma restaurant was easy as no one dresses for dinner !! The staff at the Boma ensure you are dressed for the occasion as they doll you up
in ethnic colorful sarongs, they wash your hands for you, and they paint your face so no need for make up !!

A fascinating old witchdoctor is on hand to read fortunes, and a traveling barman made us the most fabulous of cocktails - the Kenyan “dawa” made of some ferocious spirit, lemon, lime and honey !!

Then the party started, we were taught noisy African Drum solos,treated to fabulous rhythmic dance routines and fed an absolutely delicious smorgasbord which included Eland, Warthog, Kudu, local fruits and berries as well as more traditional western fare.

If you would care to get n touch with me I can send you the e mail addresses of several reputable and caring tour operators who can look after your every need for a magical, safe inexpensive tour of Zimbabwe, far away from the madding crowds that will be South Africa during the World Cup in June 2010 !!

Trust the local tour operators, they know the lie of the land, they know where there is fuel, good food and safety, they know where you will not be taken for a ride price wise too.

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