By Judith Sibanda
The Zimbabwe Stock Exchange-listed Zimre Property Investments` $15 million Sawanga shopping mall in Victoria Falls will add on to an array of new hospitality, adventurous and airline businesses aimed at enhancing visitors` leisure experience in the resort town.
The mall is expected to be officially opened in May.
Zimre Property Investments Limited’s managing director Edson Muvingi said the mall will offer different products from home, medical, food and fuel services.
“We want it to provide seamless integration facilities that both local residents, local and international tourists would want to have. It’s a one-stop shop, where local and internationals will be able to come in and shop here. It mimics life the way you live it,” said Muvingi.
“The facet is called a tourism and local facility that we are contributing to Victoria Falls, there is no shopping arrangement where everything is in one place, so we are trying to have the president (Emmerson Mnangagwa) to officiate the mall likely in the first week of May, so then all the licensed shops would’ve put the banners and filled their products.”
The mall will consist of 23 shops, banks, food courts, concept houses, coffee shops, restaurants, a service station and curio shops.
In the hospitality industry, Ilala Hotel Group is in the process of constructing a $15 million 4 – star luxury hotel on the banks of the Zambezi river to be named Palm River Lodge.
According to the group, the inside will reflect “a modern, natural and stylish elegance, with 73 generously-sized deluxe guest rooms, a luxurious presidential suite, two honeymoon suites and two private villas while also offering a relaxing spa, state-of-the-art gym facilities and an outdoor swimming pool.”
Shearwater Adventures spokesperson Clement Mukwasi said as tourism players their aim was to rejuvenate the destination through hospitality and high adrenaline activities.
“We recently brought in a 100-seater luxury boat worth half a million dollars and secondly, we are also extending our accommodation facilities, expansion work is ongoing at The Village Lodge.
“This month we lowered a jet boat into the Zambezi River for final sea testing. This is a new operational jet boat in town, so these are three investments made within a very short space of time because of the realisation that the future is bright and that a number of people who are going to prefer Victoria Falls as a destination is going to rise.”
Marriott Hotels for Leisure and Business Travel have also signed a $500 million deal to construct a hotel and riverside lodge starting in 2020 and expected to complete in 2022.
On airlines, the South African Airways introduced a new Airbus A340 aircraft on the Johannesburg-Victoria Falls route with increased capacity of 253 seats compared to the previous A330 with 222 seats.
Zimbabwe Tourism Authority (ZTA) head corporate affairs Godfrey Koti said the new developments were a declaration of confidence in the country and the destination.
“From the government perspective, there has been lot of re-engagement that has been happening internationally, I am sure you have seen the minister of Tourism, Hospitality and Environment ( Prisca Mupfumira) always up and down looking for investments and as ZTA, this places the destination on a very higher rank,”Koti said.
“You will realise that 2018 closed with 2, 5 million visitors, the highest number ever recorded. In 1999 we had 1, 9 million as highest tourist arrival.
“Last year, we also managed to contribute $1, 6 billion to the fiscus also for the first time. Zimbabwe has been selected as one of the must visit 2019 destinations and we are looking at receiving at least 3 million visitors and we are very grateful to the private sector for the effort that they have been putting.”