Zimparks wants Victoria Falls reopened to domestic tourists

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Zimbabwe’s Victoria Falls was opened to a limited number of visitors on Monday as the country prepares to market its prime tourist destination again.

The falls were opened to tourism operators for the purposes of marketing domestic tourism after the Covid-19 lockdown halted international travel.

Zimbabwe Parks and Wildlife Management Authority (Zimparks) spokesperson Tinashe Farawo told TimesLIVE they wrote to the government with a proposal to reopen.

“Our main target for now is day visitors and after that we could promote domestic tourism. We wait for government’s permission,” he said.

Tourism companies have also been urged to take bookings.

Before the lockdown the falls had almost dried up because of poor rainfall in northern Zambia where the Zambezi River originates. But recently the falls hit a decade high in terms of water flow.

“Last year on the same date [May 27] the recorded flow at Victoria Falls was 1,117 m3/s. This year’s flow recorded on May 27 at Victoria Falls represents an increase of 200% compared to last year’s flow on the same date, and 57% higher than the long-term average river flow,” the Zambezi River Authority (ZRA) said.

Tourism was hit hard by the lockdown. An estimated 50% of jobs were lost in the sector as hotels and tour companies cut costs. President Emmerson Mnangagwa said the country was working towards returning to a pre-Covid-19 life.

“Zimbabwe deserves better and we must begin opening up our economy,” he said.