Leonard Ncube Victoria Falls Reporter
ZIMBABWE has become the first country in Africa to embrace the green tourism concept under which players are expected to harness environmentally friendly approaches. The idea was mooted in 2014 at the Hlanganani/Sanganai Expo in Harare after which the government implored the tourism sector to start implementing the project.
This followed recommendations from the United Nations World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO), to which Zimbabwe is a member, for tourism players to start programmes that sustain green tourism.
The pilot project was launched in Victoria Falls on Wednesday last week where 13 hotels and lodges received certificates for going green by embracing environment friendly practices.
Participating hotels and lodges-Bayethe Lodge, Cresta Sprayview, Ilala Lodge, Pioneers Camp, Stanley and Livingstone, Elephant Camp, Victoria Falls Hotel, Victoria Falls Safari Lodge, Vintage Camp, Zambezi Sands, Ivory and Khulu Lodge and Somalisa Camps are in Hwange and Victoria Falls.
Officially launching the project, Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Tourism and Hospitality Industry, Florence Nhekairo, said at the moment the programme was voluntary but operators would in the next five years be compelled to comply with green tourism before they could be registered to operate in the country.
Nhekairo said the launch of green tourism marked a great development in the history of tourism in Zimbabwe. “The country finally implements green tourism from the seeds sown at Hlanganani/Sanganai Expo in 2014.
“The UNWTO in 1993 noted that tourism should improve the quality of life of host community and also promote high quality expectation of the visitor,” she said. The Permanent Secretary said the concept was meant to reduce business operational costs.
“For now it’s voluntary but in the next five years for a business to be registered there would be need for compliance with green technology. “Let’s all play our part in reducing effects of climate change by using green technology that involves use of alternative energy and recyclable sources.
“About 71 percent of global travellers place importance on property hence the need for us to keep eco-friendly properties,” said Nhekairo. Victoria Falls Mayor Councillor Sifiso Mpofu said the project was a welcome development.
“As a municipality we’re committed to green environment and we believe this green tourism project will go a long way in ensuring that as a nation we conserve our surroundings. “We congratulate all hotels and lodges that participated and we would want to see inclusion of green social and cultural issues in the project,” said Clr Mpofu.
Green tourism is being spearheaded by development partners-Environment Africa and Green Tourism UK on behalf of the government. The team is working with other partners such as Parks and Wildlife Management Authority of Zimbabwe, Zimbabwe Tourism Authority and Zimbabwe Council of Tourism.
Their counterparts from Zambia attended the launch as the neighbouring country seeks to learn from Zimbabwe’s pioneer project. Programmes manager Andrea Nicholas said the project was an opportunity for Africa to show the world that it was environment friendly in the wake of climate change.
She said they started with hotels and lodges because they are easy to manage and the programme will spread to other sectors.