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Tourism players welcome Gwayi-Shangani opportunities

by Staff reporter
14 Jun 2022 at 06:33hrs | Views
THE construction of Lake Gwayi-Shangani is contributing to improved business opportunities in the hospitality industry in Hwange with its completion expected to bring greater benefits to the tourism sector.

The completion of the massive project is expected to transform lives in Matabeleland through the provision of adequate supplies of raw water for the industrial centre in Bulawayo plus the towns along the pipeline route and still be able to supply 10 000 hectares of irrigation.

Modern homes will be constructed for more than 700 villagers who will be relocated.

The construction of Lake Gwayi Shangani is part of a century old National Matabeleland Zambezi Water Project that will solve Bulawayo's water problems.

It is only becoming a reality now under President Mnangagwa's administration.

The project is already employing 500 local people and more will be recruited when contractors scale up the laying of the 245km Gwayi-Shangani-Bulawayo pipeline.

Eleven companies contracted to lay the pipeline are already on site. A modest 10 megawatt hydroelectric plant will also be established on the lake site which will augment national electricity supplies.

While most people are looking to directly benefit from the completion of the lake, some in the hospitality industry are already indirectly profiting from the construction works.

New Game Reserve Lodge manager Ms Leonah Tanikwa said following the up-scaling of the construction of Gwayi-Shangani Dam they have been recording increased accommodation bookings from consultants visiting the dam.

"We have benefited a lot because the contractors of Gwayi-Shangani Dam have also been staying in our accommodation. Most of them also come to eat here as well and they buy whatever products we have.

"We are one of the tourism and hospitality services providers in here. They have given us so much income which we need to have this place running on a daily basis," said Ms Tanikwa.

This had improved the business after the sector was affected by the Covid-19 pandemic.

Dumazwe Safaris and Gwayi Valley Leisure Centre managing director Mr Chris Dube said he was optimistic of improved business opportunities once the dam is built, the lake filled and the pipeline pumping.

"There is high demand for accommodation. The Lake Gwayi-Shangani Dam is cushioning us in terms of influx of the people or the activity that is coming into the area.

"We are seeing an increased number of people seeking accommodation in our sector," said Mr Dube.

The Government has said while those in the hospitality industry are deriving some business from the construction of the dam, there are bigger plans for the tourism sector.

Environment, Climate, Tourism and Hospitality Industry Minister Mangaliso Ndlovu said once the construction of the dam is completed, it should lead to new investment in tourism.

"The project is not the construction of the dam. The project is the dam itself. What we do with every major water body is that we ensure it is gazetted and we protect it under the National Parks Act. We then avail land for recreational facilities and these are integral in the dam and that is already catered for," said Minister Ndlovu.

"There should be tourism facilities very close to the dam, so there is planning ahead, putting infrastructure to have people come and take boat cruises and things like that. We believe that there will be activities coming from Lake Gwayi-Shangani and just the same as Tugwi-Mukosi Dam."

Hospitality Association of Zimbabwe president Mr Farai Chimba said the sector was expecting new industries to come up when the lake fills, especially considering its proximity to Hwange National Park.

"If you take it in the context of Gwayi-Shangani itself, we are not looking at the aspect of water provision. But we are looking at what value addition can be derived from the lake being there. There are opportunities of lakeside accommodation being there and also look at opportunities that can be centred along that dam," said Mr Chimba.

"For example, we have places like Kariba, you can have your cruises, jet skiing and jet boats, canoeing and you also have an aspect of fishing which is now commercialised."

He said depending on how the lake will be like there are also opportunities in creating conference centres at the site.

Source - The Herald