Wilson Dakwa, Business Reporter
ONE of the country’s leading tour and adventure operators, Shearwater Group, said the construction of its $5 million lodge in Victoria Falls is set to commence within two months.
Shearwater Group public relations manager Mr Clement Mukwasi said the construction of the lodge will begin after the environmental assessment process.
“We have since applied to the Environmental Management Agency (Ema) because the construction of a lodge, according to the Environmental Management Act, is subject to environmental impact assessment. In two months, Ema would have given us direction as to how to go about the construction of the lodge. After that, we will then begin the construction,” said Mr Mukwasi.
Mr Mukwasi said the building of the lodge will be done in phases and the injection of the US$5 million will be done over a period of five years.
The 500-bed lodge to be constructed in Jafuta area near the Victoria Falls International Airport will make use of 3 000 hectares of land.
He added that Shearwater Group will meet the Zimbabwe Parks and Wildlife Management Authority to deliberate if the parastatal can provide abundant game which will be placed at the lodge.
“We will approach Zimparks to discuss if they can relocate abundant game in their parks to our lodge as we will have a facility to cater for game to be viewed by our guests,” he said.
The development comes at a time when the Government has called upon operators to invest in new facilities in order to avoid room deficit by meeting the fast growing demand for hotel rooms. Victoria Falls has about eight hotels and 45 lodges with a combined capacity of plus or minus 3 800 beds.
The tour operator built its first accommodation facility called the Victoria Falls Explorers’ Village, a 150-bed lodge which was opened earlier this year in Victoria Falls at a cost of $1,2 million.
Mr Mukwasi revealed that tourism industry in Victoria Falls is booming and acknowledged the positive impact which the upgrading of the Victoria Falls International airport has brought to the resort destination.
He added that the Special Economic Zones will be a good enabler for investment and also contribute towards the growth of the tourism sector.
The Government has identified Sunway City in Ruwa, Bulawayo and Victoria Falls as designated SEZ locations to initially focus on.
In July, SEZs board chairman Dr Gideon Gono said the economic development strategy will attract foreign investments worth $10 billion in the next two years.
Zimbabwe received $391 million worth of foreign investments in 2016, down from $421 million in 2015. SEZs are expected to stimulate investment flows from domestic and international markets into strategic sectors of the economy.
The zones will offer investors tax and administrative advantages and it is anticipated that the SEZs will help promote value addition and product beneficiation in line with Zim Asset.