By Matabeleland North Correspondent
PRESIDENT Emmerson Mnangagwa is this Thursday expected to officially open the five-star boutique Mbano Manor Hotel, the highlight of his tour to the resort town.
The opening of the US$8 million hospitality facility comes after months of fighting with Zimbabwe Revenue Authority (Zimra) by the owners over $1,7 million duty charged for imported designer furniture.
According to an itinerary from the tourism ministry, Mnangagwa is expected to launch the country’s Tourism Recovery Strategy in the morning at the Victoria Falls Rainforest.
He will then tour Victoria Falls airport where a ‘Sanitiser Booth’ has been erected at the international terminal entrance as the industry prepares to welcome tourists post Covid-19.
In the afternoon, Mnangagwa will launch the 18-all suites luxury facility which includes in its accommodation, a presidential suite and catering for high end tourists.
Posting on its Facebook page, leading Victoria Falls tour operator Wild Horizons said: “Good news coming out of Victoria Falls this Monday. The sanitizer booth at the entrance of the international terminal at Victoria Falls Airport is now complete and waiting to welcome guests back to the region when the time is right.
“The booth at the domestic terminal is currently being installed and will be completed by the end of the day. We are so looking forward to welcoming our guests back.”
The booth is part of the country’s strategy to revive tourism which was grounded by Covid-19.
The country expects to use domestic tourism for the rebound.
The launch at the Rainforest which recently opened after more than three months closure, is expected to set the tone for start of domestic tourism, where operators and hospitality industry players are expected to come up with rates favourable to locals.
As for Mbano Manor Hotel, owned by the rich Dr Martha Matifadza Nyazema and her family, the facility’s official opening has been on the cards since last year when the bulk of construction work was completed.
It is located on the edge of Zambezi River in the Zambezi National Park, about 4km outside Victoria Falls central business district.
It targets high-end and wealthy international tourists especially hunters and celebrities seeking effortless safari experience and a quiet secluded private stay.
Its proprietor Dr Nyazema had made an appeal to Tourism Minister Nqobizitha Mangaliso Ndlovu in December last year for help to force Zimra release designer furniture imported from South Africa for the hotel.
Zimra was demanding $1,7 million duty upfront at that time which Nyazema had argued was exorbitant.
The Minister had promised to attend to the issue.
Chizema confirmed that the facility had been finally furnished.
“We are ready for official launch on Thursday,” she said.
Rooms cost between US$700 and US$1 900 per night, way above the presidential suite at Victoria Falls Hotel which is goes for US$1 800, and other high end hotels-Old Drift Lodge owned by Wild Horizons and the $15 million Palm River Lodge built through Ilala Lodge and Great Plains partnership.
Since January, Mbano Manor Hotel has been offering discounted rates of US$500 per room. Standard rooms range between US$100 and US$400 in the resort town.
Bulawayo High Court judge, Maxwell Takuva is one of the high profile people who have stayed at the hotel, as he was booked there during the Hwange High Court circuit in March.