Victoria Falls cricket ground to broaden tourism products President Mnangagwa receives a model of the Mosi-oa-Tunya International Cricket Stadium from Cricket Zimbabwe chair Tavengwa Mukuhlani after the laying of the foundation stone to mark the start of construction of the stadium in Victoria Falls yesterday. Looking on are Vice-Presidents Constantino Chiwenga and Kembo Mohadi. —Picture: Eliah Saushoma

Mashudu Netsianda in Victoria Falls

PRESIDENT Mnangagwa yesterday laid the foundation stone to mark the beginning of work on the construction of the Mosi-oa-Tunya International Cricket Stadium in Victoria Falls, saying the project dovetails with the Second Republic’s quest to broaden the tourism products and integrate the development of the Masuwe Special Economic Zone through promoting sports tourism. 

An integrated tourism resort model will be developed around the stadium to include a central business district, medical tourism facility, golf estate, tourism school and conference facilities, among others, said the President. Last year, Zimbabwe Cricket was allocated 10 hectares of land for the construction of an international cricket stadium and ancillary facilities. 

Between US$5 million and US$10 million will be invested mainly from grants from the International Cricket Council.

The stadium will be used when the country jointly hosts the 2027 Cricket World Cup with South Africa and Namibia. The project will contribute towards the US$5 billion Tourism and Hospitality Industry by 2025, as well as the development and expansion of sports infrastructure in the country. 

In his keynote address at the event, President Mnangagwa said the multi-purpose sporting infrastructure dovetails the Government’s devolution agenda to bring about multi-pronged development initiatives that leave no one and no place behind.

“It is my great honour to officiate at this special occasion to lay the foundation stone for the Zimbabwe Cricket multi-purpose sporting infrastructure, anchored by an International Cricket Stadium, among other facilities.

President Mnangagwa

“The project dovetails with my administration’s quest to comprehensively broaden the tourism products and integrate the development of the Masuwe Special Economic Zone through promoting sports tourism within our premium resort city of Victoria Falls,” he said.

“This project, here in Victoria Falls, is most welcome as it will enhance the rich natural heritage associated with our premier resort city.”

Tourism is a key pillar of the Zimbabwean economy and ranks third after mining and agriculture, accounting for 12 percent of the country’s Gross Domestic Product during the period January to September 2023. 

The international cricket stadium and associated facilities will significantly contribute to the growth of the economy while creating more training and employment opportunities.

Under the “Integrated Tourism Resort” initiative, President Mnangagwa said sustainable tourism will be promoted in line with the United Nations Tourism ethos. The diverse tourism business facilities in the resort town are expected to blend with the natural environment.

He said the location for the envisaged facility at the Masuwe SEZ will contribute to the speedy attainment of tourism sector targets towards the national development aspirations as outlined in the National Development Strategy (NDS1) and Vision 2030.

Zimbabwe has expressed readiness to co-host the 2027 Cricket World Cup, together with South Africa and Namibia. Hence the proposed cricket stadium is one of the priority projects that will be pursued with a greater sense of urgency, said President Mnangagwa.

He commended unity of purpose and teamwork demonstrated by the stakeholders involved in the project saying this will ensure completion times are met ahead of the 2027 Cricket World Cup.

“I call upon the Ministry of Sports, Arts and Recreation, as well as that of Tourism and Hospitality Industry, Zimbabwe Cricket and contractors, among other stakeholders, to uphold the Second Republic’s work ethic of working in unison for the timely completion of this high-priority project,” said the President.

He further commended the joint management committee comprising Victoria Falls City Council and Hwange Rural District Council, among other stakeholders for facilitating the take-off of this project.

“I challenge other local authorities to ensure greater effectiveness in Local Government administration towards entrenching the ease of doing business systems to attract private sector players, more investments and capital into respective localities,” he said. 

“This and other initiatives at this Masuwe Special Economic Zone must result in increased competitiveness of Victoria Falls in our domestic, regional and international economic matrix.”

Government has already adopted a comprehensive Tourism and Hospitality Industry Growth Strategy that organises the tourism and hospitality sector into clusters. The approach focuses on enhancing targeted tourism development, promotion, as well as diversification. 

The construction of the international cricket stadium and associated facilities under the Sports Tourism Cluster is a major step towards driving the development of new tourism products and facilities.

“The project is further set to generate foreign exchange revenue, facilitate technological and skills spill-overs, create employment opportunities, as well as propel various economic downstream and upstream linkages,” he added.

The President also directed the Ministry of Tourism and Hospitality Industry to revisit the set sector target given the tourism sector’s potential for growth.

He said more SEZs of that nature shall be designated to support and propel innovation, diverse industries, products, services and general economic growth for the good of the country and its citizens. 

“This is what it means that, ‘Nyika inovakwa, inotongwa, inonamatigwa nevene vayo/ Ilizwe lakhiwa, libuswe, likhulekelwe ngabaninilo’. Going forward and leveraging on the diverse functions and scope of Special Economic Zones, I expect the scale and quality of both domestic and global investments to increase,” said President Mnangagwa.

“This is moreso as the City of Victoria Falls already has a thriving tourism and hospitality industry ecosystem, as well as a budding and promising financial service trading platform.”

He reiterated Government’s commitment to continue implementing well-structured programmes that support a highly trained and efficient workforce, as well as the country’s robust legal and financial system to sustain the prevailing enabling business operating environment.

“The tourism and hospitality industry must, therefore, facilitate the participation of local communities across the tourism and hospitality value chain,” said President Mnangagwa.

“In this spirit, I commend stakeholders for guaranteeing that the cricket infrastructure and associated facilities being constructed here will involve local communities, the youth and women at every stage, through the creation of employment and training opportunities.”

Similarly, the President stressed the need to strike an intricate balance that protects the natural habitat, biodiversity and wildlife.

“Architectural designs and the built environment within the Masuwe Special Economic Zone and across the City of Victoria Falls should seamlessly blend with the natural environment, towards promoting sustainable tourism and socio-economic development,” he said.

“The modernisation and societal evolving trends and patterns in the sports and recreation sector across the world should not be ignored, as we develop sports, recreation and tourism industries.”

This includes the construction of new community sports facilities, introduction of bucket seats at our stadiums across the country, as well as the adoption of e-enabled aspects of sporting activities, which facilitate pre-match bookings and e-ticketing, among other aspects.

“Such interventions should nurture talent across various sporting codes, including the development of sporting academies, and result in greater convenience for our sport-loving nation, while more efficient systems must see our clubs being professionally run and sustainably financed,” said President Mnangagwa.



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