TOURISM minister Walter Mzembi has called for the mobilisation of US$700 million for the modernisation of Victoria Falls under the Mosi-Oa-Tunya Project.
The formation of the Mosia Tunya Development Company comes after government allocated 300 hectares of land for the development of a 10 000 — seater Convention Centre, theme parks, casinos, restaurants, hotels among other facilities.
“I approached government for some piece of land. I have been given 300 hectares of prime land. It is not violating the heritage of Victoria Falls. Let’s use this gap everyone wants to come here. The Victoria Falls brand is bigger than brand Zimbabwe,” said Mzembi.
“After I did the interview with BBC last week, l received a call from the London Stock Exchange saying they are interested. I told them I am the one you talked to last year when I did the Hardtalk (a BBC programme) and I said the land is still there.”
Mzembi told delegates at the Insurance Institute of Zimbabwe annual meeting in Victoria Falls that the idea was to modernise Victoria Falls, which is currently attracting a million tourists, matching Niagara Falls boast of a US$30 billion economy.
Mosi-Oa-Tunya is a Special Purpose Vehicle for the Ministry of Tourism and Hospitality Industry.
“I have successfully persuaded government to designate Gwaai, Hwange into Kariba to become a special economic zone. We have done benchmark studies and they offer incentives to those who want to invest. Its one of the special economic zones that government is considering right now,” he said.
Mzembi said free zone conditions similar to those in Hong Kong and Iran were going to prevail in the country.
The Mosi-Oa-Tunya is chaired by First Mutual Life Assurance MD Ruth Ncube who will be spearheading the resource mobilisation towards the success of the project.
“The challenge is for Ruth and the president of the Insurance Institute to resource mobilise for the US$700 million dollar project. If she fails the insurance sector has failed me. It will be a sectorial failure because l was led to believe that you can resource-mobilise.” Mzembi told delegates attending the Insurance Institute of Zimbabwe meeting in Victoria Falls.
The US$150 million refurbishment of the Victoria Falls airport will increase tourist arrivals in the resort town.
Mzembi said in 1998 Harare International airport was the busiest airport in Southern Africa with 48 airlines landing there.
He said there was an agreement by cabinet to introduce visas on arrival to Chinese nationals coming to Zimbabwe as a way of targeting one million Chinese arrivals by 2020, a development which dovetails with his US$5 billion tourism economy.
The Infrastructure Development Bank of Zimbabwe are the financial advisors to the Mosi-Oa-Tunya Project.