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SafLodge returns ahead of Christmas

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AFRICA Albida Tourism (AAT) said on Monday it would be reopening its flagship Victoria Falls Safari Lodge (SafLodge) next month in response to strong demand from domestic tourists.

BY SHAME MAKOSHORI

The strong demand comes a month after the Zimbabwe Tourism Authority (ZTA) launched the ZimBho domestic tourism campaign, which encourages locals to lead the charge in rebuilding the industry after almost a year of turbulences triggered by the deadly COVID-19 pandemic. The campaign was well-timed to coincide with the Christmas holiday.

Experts say ZimBho will be vital in rebuilding Zimbabwean destinations littered with graveyards of tourism start-ups and iconic resorts that went belly up, even way before the disastrous pandemic tore through, forcing governments to shut down economies.

SafLodge operates within the famous Victoria Falls Estate, along with a string of high-end units within the AAT group — the Victoria Falls Safari Club, Victoria Falls Safari Suites and Lokuthula Lodges.

These had already resumed operations in July.

“Victoria Falls Safari Lodge, The Boma Dinner & Drum Show, The Boma Café and the Buffalo Bar will reopen on December 10, after being closed for nine months — due to coronavirus pandemic-related travel restrictions — following growing demand for the festive season,” AAT said in a statement. “The Victoria Falls Safari Lodge estate partially reopened in July, when Victoria Falls Safari Club, Victoria Falls Safari Suites and Lokuthula Lodges, resumed operations but Africa Albida Tourism’s flagship property, Victoria Falls Safari Lodge, and The Boma remained closed.”

AAT chief executive officer Ross Kennedy said the decision to fully reopen Victoria Falls Safari Lodge estate came after enquiries were received for the three properties which were operating, and which were already almost fully booked from mid-December to early January.

“Also, on the back of increased Fastjet flights to Victoria Falls from Harare coupled with flights from Johannesburg starting from December 3, it was also decided that we should reopen Victoria Falls Safari Lodge and The Boma,” Kennedy said. “Our decision to reopen was also influenced by a late surge in bookings as a number of Zimbabweans based in the UK and Europe have chosen to return home for between four and eight weeks over the lockdown time.

“There is very clear evidence that a large number of them have returned home, and are going to work from here during that period, and so I think we will see a late demand for the Victoria Falls and other tourist attractions in Zimbabwe.

“While it was positive to see additional demand, bookings were still not as strong as in ‘normal’ times, but despite this, the decision had been made to get the whole estate operating again and look forward to the end of year uplift after a tough year.”

Victoria Falls Safari Lodge will reopen with a special charge of US$95 per person, per night, on a bed and breakfast basis.

Follow Shame on Twitter @ShameMakoshori

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