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Zimbabwe's Elections 2013 - Index of Articles
to build $300m Disneyland in Africa
Smith, Mail and Guardian (SA)
August 27, 2013
The formula has worked
in California, Florida and Paris. Now officials in Zimbabwe, eager
to re-brand a country notorious for economic collapse and political
controversy, want to build a "Disneyland in Africa".
Walter Mzembi, the tourism
and hospitality minister, told news agency New Ziana, that the government
was planning a $300-million theme park near Victoria Falls, the
country's top tourist attraction.
Mzembi was quoted as
saying the resort would be a "Disneyland in Africa", although
he did not appear to suggest that the statue of explorer David Livingstone,
which overlooks the falls, would be supplanted by a jobbing actor
in a Mickey Mouse costume.
outlined plans for shopping malls, banks and exhibition and entertainment
facilities such as casinos. "We have reserved 1 200 hectares
of land closer to Victoria Falls International Airport to do hotels
and convention centres," Mzembi told New Ziana on the sidelines
of the UN World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO) general assembly ,
which Victoria Falls is co-hosting with the town of Livingstone
in neighbouring Zambia.
Mzembi said the project
would cost about $300-million.
to create a free zone with a banking centre where even people who
do not necessarily live in Zimbabwe can open bank accounts,"
The government has plans
to invest $150-million in expanding the town's airport to accommodate
bigger aircrafts, according to the report from Ziana. Mzembi said
the government had found funding partners including multilateral
Visitors travel from
across the world to see Victoria Falls where water plummets more
than 100 metres into the Zambezi gorge, generating mists of spray
so high they can be seen up to 30 miles away. A bridge linking Zimbabwe
and Zambia offers bungee jumping but made headlines for the wrong
reasons last year when an Australian tourist narrowly survived her
The nearby town offers
few reasons to linger or spend money, however, despite the launch
last month of an open-top bus tour in an attempt to drum up interest.
Mzembi hopes to appeal to a younger market.
tourism potential was devastated by a decade of conflict and hyperinflation
but has recovered in recent years. The government says it recorded
a 17% increase in tourist arrivals in the first quarter of 2013,
up 346 299 to 404 282. It has predicted the tourism sector will
contribute 15% to gross domestic product by 2015 if the country
mostly peaceful, though bitterly
disputed, election last month, Zimbabwe's co-hosting of the
UNWTO conference this week is seen as another milestone towards
that stability. But the decision to award the conference to Zimbabwe
as a co-host was condemned by the independent UN Watch human rights
group as a "disgraceful show of support – and a terribly
timed award of false legitimacy – for a brutal, corrupt and
Hillel Neuer, head of
the Geneva-based group, added: "Amid reports of election rigging
and continuing human rights abuses, Zimbabwe is the last country
that should be legitimised by a UN summit of any kind. The notion
that the UN should spin this country as a lovely tourist destination
is, frankly, sickening."
Robert Mugabe's associated status as UN "leader for tourism"
has also been questioned by critics of his 33-year rule.
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