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Tourism chief mulls night tours at Vic Falls Today's News

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Victoria Falls should be commercialised to attract more tourists according to Zimbabwe Tourism Authority chief executive, Karikoga Kaseke. Ideas suggested by Kaseke include electrifying the premises, putting in modern infrastructure and running it on a 24-hour basis.

According to the Times of Zambia, Kaseke made the suggestions during a welcome dinner for the Sanganai/Hlanganani World Travel and Tourism Africa Expo. He mentioned that the highly commercialised Niagara Falls in the US attracts US$30bn (R331bn) earnings annually, whereas the both sides of the Victoria Falls combined only attract US$500 000 (R5,5m) annually. 

“We have only tried to make Victoria Falls remain as natural as possible, which is not helping us. We need to electrify Victoria Falls and start running it on a 24-hour basis instead of closing the premises at night,” Karikoga was quoted as saying.

Ross Kennedy, ce of Africa Albida Tourism and Southern Africa Director of the African Travel & Tourism Association (Atta), says progress, development and new ideas are usually driven by market demand and market forces, and Victoria Falls is no exception. He adds, however, that the region should certainly adhere to UNESCO rules and conditions and ensure that Victoria Falls retains such important status.

Emmanuel Fundira, group ce for the Astoc Leisure Group, says accommodation in Victoria Falls is operating at 50% capacity. He says the country’s strategy is to achieve 100% capacity but unfortunately this is still constrained by challenges including access issues.

However, Emmanuel warns that the Victoria Falls thrives as an unpolluted environment and that commercialisation could potentially take away the natural attractiveness. He says Unesco would have to approve and sanction any proposed developments at the Victoria Falls and due process would have to be followed. “I can’t see a situation where the authorities would ignore compliance issues as the attendant costs would be devastating.”

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