The Sunday News
MANY experts in the tourism sector concur that Binga is a sleeping tourism giant with the potential to be an economic hub if natural resources in the area are tapped into.
Binga district in Matabeleland North province has sand beaches along Zambezi River, hot springs, fishing, boating and a rich culture, which are all ingredients of a tasty menu for any visitor. What has been lacking is a vigorous marketing strategy to entice both local and foreign visitors.
However, there is a glimmer of hope that the district will rise to its full potential, after the Government rehabilitated the Binga Airstrip, which has made travel to the area faster and efficient for tourists. Tourism players in the area recently told our news crew that about three aircrafts land in Binga daily, which shows that the investment made by the Government to repair the airstrip is bearing fruits.
The rehabilitation of the Binga Airstrip, alongside others in the country, was started last year as part of efforts to improve accessibility so that tourism hotspots in remote areas could start contributing to the country’s economy in a meaningful way.
The rehabilitation of the airstrip, which is done by the District Development Fund (DDF), has already made Binga an attractive destination, as some light aircraft can fly directly to the area. In addition, the Second Republic has taken the initiative to improve the airstrip as part of wider efforts to make the area attractive through a number of projects aimed at ensuring that Binga is a competitive and part of the greater corridor linked to the Victoria Falls Special Economic Zone.
In an interview, Matabeleland North Provincial Affairs and Devolution Minister Richard Moyo said that construction work on the airstrip was ongoing, while the influx of tourists into Binga was pleasing as this had been Government’s aim when rehabilitation of the airstrip began.
“DDF is rebuilding the airstrip and you might have seen we have men that are really busy sprucing it up and adding to the work that has already been done there. There is an area that is being built around the airstrip that will become a waiting area where tourists can sit around comfortably as they wait to go and see the Zambezi and other attractions that we have in this part of the country. It is only getting better and better and as a province we are happy that Binga is attracting more tourists,” he said.
Mr Rinzelani Majoko, the acting manager at Musumu River Lodge, the resort where foreign visitors taken from the airstrip are delivered before going on a tour of the Zambezi River, said that the airstrip had resulted in increased activity for operators as it eliminated the unpleasant aspects of long-distance travel, especially for elderly tourists.
“We used to drive some of the groups from Hwange, but that is changing because the majority of the foreign groups that you saw are pensioners and they want to see Africa. So, they don’t want to travel long distances on roads because some of them, given their age, might have had things like hip surgeries, so long distances are not really kind to them. So, it’s easier for them to just fly in. We collect them from Binga, they spend time here and then fly out,” he said.