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Shongwe Lookout opens its doors, tourism boom is expected

by Staff reporter
14 Mar 2019 at 21:30hrs | Views
Zimbabwe's tourism investment continues to grow despite trouble with the country's economy.

The opening of a US$1.5 million lodge, Shongwe Lookout, in the heart of the country's tourism mecca of Victoria Falls is evidence that the tourist boom experience last year is far from over in the eyes of investors.

The 23-bedroom lodge, located in the suburbs, was funded by a mix of local and international investors.

Jamie Henson, the lodge manager, is a Zimbabwean who has lived in New Zealand for the past 17 years. He says he and his family were lured back by the opportunities in tourism.

"We were looking at the statistics on tourist numbers in Victoria Falls, and realized there is a very positive future here."

Henson arrived in Zimbabwe just before the currency crash last year and said thanks to good management the lodge is still on track to take its first guests from June 1 this year.

"So far the response from travel agents has been fantastic. They love the concept of what we are doing and say they simply do not have enough accommodation in Victoria Falls at present."

Henson said Shongwe Lookout is targeted at "the more discerning traveler" looking for comfort and great value for money.

The lodge will offer guests access to two platforms on a viewing tower, with vistas of the Zambezi River and spray rising from Victoria Falls, as well as a pool, restaurant area, boma area and bar.

Henson said he and his wife are excited about living in Zimbabwe.

"My wife is from New Zealand, so we were a bit nervous about how she would adapt. But, so far, we are both loving it. There is so much happening around Victoria Falls, so many young people like us with a passion to make the town the best it can be.

"It's a really positive place to be."

Last year saw Zimbabwe's tourist arrivals jump 15 per cent on the back of positive international coverage of the country after changes in government. Trouble with the economy kicked off 2019, and its impact remains to be seen on tourist numbers to the country.

However, Henson said anecdotal evidence suggests that tourist numbers remain high.

Source - Agencies