Victoria Falls SEZ to transform Hwange area businesses

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THE designation of Victoria Falls as a Special Economic Zone (SEZ) is set to boost safari operators and downstream tourism businesses in Hwange District and beyond.

Miombo Safari Camp on the edge of Hwange National Park is among the hopeful operators that believe the SEZ model will transform their businesses.

Hwange falls within the Victoria Falls SEZ, which stretches from Kazungula on the border with Botswana and Namibia, down along the Zambezi River to Binga and Kariba.

Business Chronicle visited the facility recently and spoke to assistant camp manager Ms Sharlene Caldecott who said that the safari camp expects to grow bigger due to renewed hope in tourism ushered in by the new political administration.

“This industry isn’t about competition. We’ve survived by being a small family with others and supporting each other in our proximity through sharing overflows in terms of clients. We’ve beautiful relations especially with African Bush Camps and the community, which we always help,” she said.

“We expect a busy winter period from international clients as hundreds visit the area for game viewing activities and a significant number of repeat domestic tourists especially from Bulawayo, Gweru and Harare who enjoy holidaying in the jungle. We hope the situation remains positive going forwards so that we also contribute to the economy both of Dete and country as a whole.”

The photographic safari camp is run by six shareholders, two of them Zimbabweans. It was established in 1992 and has 38-beds, offering unique lodging and tent accommodation in a typical jungle for undisturbed safari experiences with a basket of activities.

Ms Caldecott, who doubles as reservations manager, said they recently refurbished the camp in line with current world tourism trends.

Besides a swimming pool overlooking the restaurant, the camp has also built a watering hole and three viewing platforms to give clients a rare safari treat within the premises.

Miombo has empowered the local Dete community through employment and various humanitarian projects. Ms Caldecott said the camp was committed to serving the community and contributing to Government’s vision 2030 of an upper middle class economy.

“The journey has been challenging but we managed to keep our head above water. We’re there 24/7 for our clients knowing that reservation is about response time, good rapport with agents and giving clients the most memorable stay and value to the community,” she said.

Mr Bernard Polisa, who is a duty manager, said the camp employs 12 permanent workers and scores of casuals during peak periods.

“Twelve people, mainly locals, are employed here. We have various humanitarian programmes at Dete Old People’s Home and also pay school fees for scores of orphans around Dete. Some of our guests also do community work at the Old People’s Home while we also allow residents to fetch water from here free of charge because Dete is always without water,” he said.

Dete residents usually go for weeks without running water and Miombo Safari Camp has pledged to provide the precious liquid to every member of the community at no cost. Dete is under Hwange Rural District Council. — -chronicle.co.zw

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