National Parks have today allowed tourist operators back into the Rainforest to view the mighty Victoria Falls which have been at their highest flows in over a decade this year. This comes after pressure from the Victoria Falls community to re-open the falls to local residents.
A local tourism operator interviewed by victoriafalls24 expressed eagerness to get in and take footage of one of the seven wonders of the world putting on a show that the world is missing out on due to Covid-19 travel bans. “While people across the world are stuck at home dreaming of their next holiday, let’s show them what this beautiful country has to offer. Let’s show them the mighty Victoria Falls in all its glory.”
After a stakeholder meeting on Monday night in Victoria falls with local operators, the Minister for Tourism, and leaders from Zimbabwe Tourism Authority (ZTA) and National Parks, it was agreed that operators would be allowed into the park to capture the falls at their best. Around 45 operators have been allotted times to ensure social distancing is observed.
Further pressure is being exerted for full opening of National Parks for local residents. At a time when morale has been hit by the Covid-19 tourism downturn, Victoria Falls residents are frustrated by not being allowed into local parks like Zambezi National Park, or Chamabondo National Park. As one resident put it, “We are allowed into the crowded supermarket, and we are now allowed back to work, but we can’t go into the National Park and enjoy our beautiful back yard and wildlife.”
The Director General of National Parks Mr. Fulton Mangwanya has also expressed concern over the downturn in revenue for National Parks which is expected to operate as a stand-alone parastatal. Revenue from local residents would go a long way in providing Parks with some income through these tough times.
Neighbouring countries, South Africa, Namibia, Botswana and Zambia have all opened at least some of their National Parks for domestic visitors in recent weeks. The Zambian side of the falls was re-opened last month by Zambian President Mr. Edgar Lungu.
Zimbabwe’s Matebeleland North province which encompasses Zimbabwe’s star attractions of Victoria Falls, Hwange National Park, and part of Lake Kariba has recorded only six cases of Covid-19 to date of which three have already recovered.