Tobias Mandoreba in Hwange, Sunday Life Correspondent
VICTORIA FALLS is one of the seven natural wonders of the world and the major waterfall on the Zambezi River in Africa. It is famous for being the largest waterfall in the world, in the wet season. The African people who live around the falls call it Mosi-oa-Tunya which means “smoke that thunders’’.
Statistics show that close to a million international tourists flock to this resort town in a year as attention tends to shift towards international tourism in developing nations than domestic tourism.
Surveys and analysis also show that pricing factors have negatively affected the overall performance of domestic tourism in Zimbabwe as indications are that domestic tourists are highly price sensitive.
But Mambo Backpackers Lodge, a five-minutes’ walk from Victoria Falls town centre is highly determined to “oil the wheels” of the domestic tourism drive through affordable pricing and packages to locals.
Sunday Life caught up with Mr Sheik Rusere, a director in this family business established in 2014 and running under the banner Nyota Ecoventures (Pvt) Ltd.
“Our main vision is to drive and promote domestic tourism. Zimbabweans are not familiar with their rich and unique tourist attractions and the major reason being the high costs associated with travel, accommodation and meals here in Vic Falls. We have since come up with packages that are discounted for Zimbabweans to embrace their attractions as they come here either for short or long-term stay.
A payment system that allows one to pay for your package on a three-month instalments is now in place as you book your date and secure it with a 50 percent deposit and then finish the remainder in two months,’’ said Rusere.
The package offer runs up to 1 August 2017 with more affordable packages that can be paid for within a period of six to 12 months being designed and to be introduced later.
“We have four standard rooms and six spacious tents. The backpacking has cooking facilities for self-catering with a comfortable lounge area for relaxing besides a small garden to cool off and relax after a day in the sun while enjoying a number of attractions. We offer free breakfast and free Wi-Fi and as you can also see we are expanding the place with an additional five rooms, a swimming pool, bar and installation of air conditioners in all rooms,” he added.
A triple room is $55, twin room $45 and double room $45 — all bed and breakfast.
Away from accommodation, Nyota Ecoventures Tour packages are designed with a mentality that a “package” can never compete with a tailor-made package tour that is specifically for a local tourist.
Warthog package (3 nights) @ $80 per person.
Targeting groups of a minimum of 10 people and maximum of 30. It includes a ticket to view magnificent Victoria Falls including transfer, crocodile farm tour, sunset cruise and big baobab tree tour and bridge tour. Accommodation is in fixed tents, bed and breakfast.
Hippo package (3 nights) @ $160 per person.
Targeting minimum two and maximum 10 people who want to live in a more comfortable environment and experience game drives. It also comprises a tour of the Falls, choice between sunset and dinner cruise, bridge tour, croc farm and big baobab tree tour.
Lion package (3 nights) @ 310 per person.
Package for people looking for more adventurous vacation that does not limit them to basics. It includes tour of the Falls, croc farm, sunset/river cruise, bridge tour, big tree tour, game drive and a choice of one activity among white water rafting, helicopter flight, elephant ride, lion walk and canoeing.
To underline the importance of domestic tourism, the President of Zimbabwe Cde Mugabe has in the past also called for the promotion of domestic tourism, arguing most Zimbabweans lacked knowledge about the many historical monuments and treasures in the country.
He tasked the tourism minister to come up with deliberate programmes to encourage locals to visit places of interest.
He said then, “There are times when I tend to think that Zimbabweans do not really know their country and its intrinsic value and worth, besides, of course, its mineral endowments, such as gold and diamonds, which everyone knows about. Perhaps the Ministry of Tourism and Hospitality (Industry) should launch a “Know-Your-Zimbabwe” campaign to facilitate visits to and knowledge of our country’s notable sights,” said President Mugabe.
In the long term, Nyota Ecoventures Tours plans to expand their services to other tourist places within the country.