Leonard Ncube Victoria Falls Reporter
TOUR operators and accommodation facilities in Victoria Falls have recorded an 80 percent occupancy rate since last week with more positive prospects in the second half of the year, an official has said. While some sections of society were advocating a stayaway and a strike last week, it was business as usual for tourism businesses in the resort town. Employers’ Association for Tourism and Safari Operators (EATSO) president Mr Clement Mukwasi said hotels and activities were fully booked between now and December, surpassing records for the past three years.
He said only September is still free for the third quarter, which stretches from July to September while November and December are also fully booked, promising a 20 percent increase end of year.
Mr Mukwasi said Victoria Falls had overtaken Livingstone, where tourists have been flocking lately.
“Victoria Falls has overtaken Livingstone in terms of arrivals in the third quarter, which is July to September although September is still not clear. We have recorded a massive increase in capacity, which is at 80 percent for hotels and activity bookings and that surpasses the past three years whose capacity has been hovering at between 30 and 55 percent,” said Mr Mukwasi.
“This has surpassed the past three years and we have also gone beyond what’s being experienced in Livingstone and this means we are able to keep people on their jobs and contribute to shareholders and the fiscus.”
Mr Mukwasi said most of their clients were coming from Europe as most of them prefer going on holiday this time of the year. He said operators are geared to ensure satisfactory service.
“We are warming up to the season by increasing staff and in-house training as well as infrastructure to ensure there is adequate capacity for numbers. So far we are meeting demand but there is a need to increase on hotel accommodation facilities in Victoria Falls if the destination is to keep up with numbers,” said Mr Mukwasi.
He said a number of operators were busy expanding their facilities with also new accommodation being built. A few weeks ago Batonka Guest Lodge opened for business and Shearwater is also constructing a campsite behind Elephants Walk. Mr Mukwasi said campsites were now popular because the majority of visitors are “day trippers” coming in groups between Victoria Falls-Hwange and Chobe.