Bongani Ndlovu and Leonard Ncube, Chronicle Reporters
FAMILY time is important during the festive season and Zimbabwean families are increasingly visiting local tourist attractions during public holidays such as Christmas and New Year to have quality time.
In the past it was mostly foreign tourists who visited such places to enjoy with relatives and friends.
Domestic tourism is growing as evidenced by the increasing number of locals now visiting tourist attractions such as Victoria Falls and other such places.
Cars could be seen making a beeline to some of the tourist attractions during Christmas and New year holidays.
A Chronicle news crew travelled to Matopos National Park, Matopos Sailing Club, Tshabalala Game Sanctuary and Khami Ruins and met many families who were having quality time during the festive period.
The first stop for the crew was Matopos National Park, which is about 30 kilometres from Bulawayo along the Bulawayo-Kezi Road.
The picturesque park has numerous attractions such as wild animals, Maleme Dam, rock paintings, Rhodes’ Grave and picnic spots dotted around the park.
Adults pay $2 650 entry fee and children pay half the amount.
In August 2020, President Mnangagwa launched the National Tourism Recovery and Growth Strategy to reboot the tourism sector following the devastating impact of the Covid-19 pandemic.
Promoting domestic tourism is one of the strategies of reviving the tourism and hospitality industry.
The plan hinges on the country’s vision to be an international tourist destination of choice, leveraging on the sustainable use of its natural heritage such as culture and wildlife.
The approach is also informed by the Government’s Vision 2030 of growing the country into an upper middle-income economy characterised by increased investment, decent jobs and communities free from poverty and corruption.
Despite setbacks suffered under the Covid-19 pandemic, Zimbabwe is targeting a US$5 billion tourism sector by 2025 and strategies such as promoting domestic tourism are bearing fruit.
Maleme Dam is an ideal spot for families that want to have a get-together and braai while enjoying the cool breeze.
Families like the Alfreds from Bulawayo have been visiting Maleme Dam for years and only stopped during the Covid- 19 travel restrictions.
Mr Hansel Alfred this year brought his father and mother for a family outing at the dam.
“Maleme Dam has been our go-to place for many years. I think it’s been for many generations. We used to come when we were children with my parents and I used to take my children here. I’m not sure if they will carry on the tradition,” said Mr Alfred.
He said access roads to the dam were in good state hence they were able to use a small car.
“We were at this very spot some years back as a big group but today we are a smaller group and the drive was wonderful.
The road coming here is in good state,” said Mr Alfred.
Leaving the Alfreds, the news crew met the Muzuwas, a young family of four, some 500 metres away.
Mr Innocent Muzuwa was having drinks with his wife Netsai and their two children.
“I really appreciate the time I spend with my family and that’s why we are here to have some fun together. To us it’s a holiday, it’s a blessing as a family to get out. We thank God for health and we are looking forward to the New Year,” said Mr Muzuwa.
Mrs Muzuwa said as parents they work hard and have little time to spend with their children.
“Today we are finally together and happy that we are celebrating 2023 alive and we want to thank God for that,” said Mrs Muzuwa.
In the distance, there are many other families and couples parked and braaing at spots scattered around the dam.
The Cecil John Rhodes’ gravesite was a hive of activity. Many families were waiting to go up the mountain and see the famous World’s View and Rhodes’ grave.
Mr Vusa Dube and his siblings made the steep ascent to the top of the mountain.
“After huffing and puffing, the view up there is spectacular, to say the least, and is worth the effort. The scenery here at Matopos is breath-taking. We enjoyed it as a family,” said Mr Dube.
The news crew passed by Matopos Sailing Club and again, observed hordes of families gathered, some braaing, while other people were taking boat rides, horseback rides, quad biking and children were enjoying themselves on a jumping castle.
Some families were at Tshabalala Game Sanctuary, some 10km away, along the Bulawayo-Kezi highway to see lions and other game.
People thronged the Lions Enclosure to catch a glimpse of the king of the jungle.
“I see lions on television and YouTube, but seeing them live is very exciting. Unfortunately, there wasn’t someone to tell me where these lions are from and how old they were. In the future there should be someone who guides us or even put-up signs explaining what we are seeing,” said Mr Tawanda Makushu who was with his brother.
Tshabalala Game Sanctuary has a restaurant that serves various dishes and that is where most families had gathered.
The last part of the journey was Khami Ruins.
Despite the drizzly and overcast weather, a fair number of families were out at the heritage site.
Meanwhile, tourism operators in Victoria Falls said the resort city was a hive of activity despite the absence of traditional crowd pullers, the Victoria Falls Carnival and Mapopoma Festival.
The carnival was moved from end of year to Easter holiday last year while for the first time in six years, organisers of Mapopoma Festival suspended the event.
Boat cruises were the most popular activity while the Boma and Drum Show was also popular at eateries.
Article Source: The Chronicle