The International Finance Corporation (IFC) in partnership with the government on Thursday launched the Victoria Falls tourism recovery plan, aimed at helping Zimbabwe’s tourism hub recover from the effects of Covid-19, which brought business to a standstill across the globe.
As part of measures to curb the spread of the pandemic governments world over closed borders and suspended international travel resulting in massive loss of business to players in the tourism and hospitality sector.
In a statement, IFC, a member of the World Bank Group, said the Victoria Falls tourism recovery plan was an initiative to boost tourism in and around the resort town to help strengthen Zimbabwe’s tourism industry, which has suffered a sharp decline in visitors as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic outbreak.
“This plan will establish a road-map to realize the growth potential of Victoria Falls and the wider area, including Masuwe, in a feasible, phased, and sustainable way. The plan will recommend detailed actions in areas such as data collection, marketing and skills development, infrastructure, and viable project investments.”
Freedthinkers, a destination development firm, will lead the development plan process.
The firm has also been responsible for the Cape Town City Development Strategy, and the repurposing of diamond-mining town, Oranjemund in Namibia, amongst others.
“This is an exciting opportunity for all stakeholders to build a new future for Victoria Falls,” said Freedthinkers chief executive officer, Mike Freedman.
“We believe in the power of many minds to co-create a generosity of ideas, to balance conservation with development, and to respect and promote a unique sense of place.”
As one of the world’s largest falls and most spectacular natural sites, Victoria Falls is Zimbabwe’s main tourism hub and supports about 25,000 direct jobs.
“Travel restrictions imposed because of Covid-19 have collapsed global tourism, forcing businesses to retrench nearly 30 percent of tourism employees in the Victoria Falls area in recent months,” said the IFC.
The programme, the IFC said would support concrete goal setting and recommendations for achieving those goals over the next five years.
“The plan will be approved by the Government of Zimbabwe and inform future development of the tourism sector in the Victoria Falls wider area,” added the IFC.
Permanent Secretary for Tourism and Hospitality Industry Ministry, Munesushe Munodawafa, said: “The plan is needed to support the destination’s recovery from the Covid-19 crisis and build longer-term resilience and pathways to growth.”