Leonard Ncube In Victoria Falls
PLAYERS in the tourism industry in Victoria Falls have mobilised resources to build a holding shed at Kazungula Border post to provide resting places for tourists entering the country.
This comes amid reports some tourists have fainted at the border because of excessive direct heat as they wait to be served by immigration and revenue officers.
Representatives of the industry, Mr Chris Svovah, who is chairperson of Hospitality Association of Zimbabwe Victoria Falls chapter, Zimbabwe Council for Tourism Matabeleland North representative, Mrs Barbara Murasiranwa and Mr Farai Chimba, who is Victoria Falls Hotel deputy general manager, visited the border post last week to assess progress on the construction site.
The project has been on the cards for some time and Mrs Murasiranwa last year appealed to the Zimbabwe Tourism Authority to help as she claimed the Zimbabwe Revenue Authority was throwing spanners on the grounds that if “we carried out the project, the tourism industry would be glorified as it will be known that it’s the operators who built it (the shed)”.
Mr Svovah said the shed, with a capacity of 100 people, has already been constructed on the Zimbabwean entry side.
“As HAZ we noted with concern that tourists who come through Kazungula Border Post endure scorching heat as they wait to be cleared at the border. This coupled with incessant rains becomes a challenge to our visitors as they wait in long queues for border procedures hence we decided to build a shed at our own cost,” said Mr Svovah.
He said the first phase cost $8 500 mobilised from a number of players who chipped in and the second phase where a similar shed will be built on the exit side, will push the figure to $12 500.
Said Mr Svovah: “Last week we visited the border when workmen delivered building material of which today I am happy to report that there has been tremendous progress. Poles and trusses have been erected and painted. As we speak they are mounting the roof and the shed will be ready in the next two days.”
Mr Svovah said the idea was to ensure that tourists are not exhausted on entering the country so they can visit many resort areas and book for activities.
“Overally, we want our visitors to be fresh when entering the country so they can explore what we have to offer. We want them to enjoy Victoria Falls,” he said.
Over the years, the industry, led by HAZ, has given mineral water to tourists at ports of entry such as the Victoria Falls International Airport, Victoria Falls and Kazungula Border Posts at its own expense as a way of welcoming them into the country. This was to cool them down from high temperatures.
The holding shed will come in handy especially against the backdrop of the re-introduction of the Kavango-Zambezi (KAZA) Uni-Visa, which facilitates free movement between Zimbabwe and Zambia as well as Botswana. Since the re-launch, arrivals have increased by about 15 percent, authorities said.
Tourists from Botswana, Zambia, Namibia and South Africa use Kazungula Border Post.