The Zimbabwe Parks and Wildlife Management Authority (ZimParks) has begun the first phase of an ambitious drive to upgrade all its facilities to between three and five-star status as the authority seeks to boost tourist arrivals and receipts.
The commencement of the renovations come on the back of the authority having successfully cleared a crippling US$25 million legacy debt as at mid-December 2019.
Government has identified tourism as one of the key sectors which is expected to drive economic recovery together with other sectors like mining, agriculture and manufacturing.
In an interview with this publication, ZimParks public relations manager Mr Tinashe Farawo said the authority has started by closing the ungraded Rhodes Nyanga Lodge which is being renovated in the next three months to a three star hotel. The lodge which is in the precincts of Nyanga has an 80 bed capacity with provision for hosting conferences.
Nyanga itself is one of the major tourists' attractions in the country and in 2018 it accounted for about 22 000 tourists with the number growing to 26 000 in 2019 and this is the market the authority is targeting to tap into and growing as well.
"It (Rhodes Nyanga) will be closed for the next three months, this is part of improving our facilities throughout the country to between three and five star status and this is the first phase," said Mr Farawo.
"The upgrade is in line with the Authority's five-year strategy drawn by our Director-General Mr (Fulton) Mangwanya and also approved by Government.
"So even as we are saying we are now on an upgrade drive, a sign that we have some money to invest, we are not oblivious of the need to have austerity for prosperity. So to achieve this, the upgrade will be anchored on in-sourcing which will see us making use of our own artisans from within the Authority.
"We have the capacities within and there is no need for us to look outward when the solution is available. Once the improvements are done, we are confident we will see more tourists visiting the facility as well as registering more receipts which are quite key to our strategy," added Mr Farawo.
ZimParks has three lodges in Nyanga with a total bed capacity of about 200.
The Authority advised that as soon as it is done with the Nyanga project, the next upgrade will move to its Lodge at Lake Chivero.