Will development steal Livingstone’s thunder?

While tourism numbers in the towns of Livingstone, Zambia and Victoria Falls in Zimbabwe are steadily increasing after Covid-19, there are fears that the iconic waterfall might be in danger of losing its heritage status.

By Leon Louw

The falls can be viewed from both Zambia and Zimbabwe and is located on the border between these two countries. With a width of close to 1,708m it is one of the world’s largest waterfalls and marks the point where the tumultuous water from the Zambezi River (the fourth longest river in Africa) plunges 108m into the Batoka gorge below.

Before Covid-19 disrupted the global tourism industry, Victoria Falls (locally known as MosioaTunya [the Smoke that Thunders]) attracted record numbers of foreign visitors. This heritage site is on the bucket list of most international tourist visiting Southern Africa. As tourists slowly return in the wake of the global pandemic, there are increasing rumours about development projects that could affect its heritage status.

The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) recently warned that Victoria Falls could lose world heritage site status if the Zimbabwean and Zambian governments proceed with development plans near one of the seven natural wonders of the world.

According to the UNESCO report, plans are afoot to build a hydroelectric power station, a 300-bed hotel complex and a golf course near the falls.

The power plant proposal comes as Zimbabwe is facing an acute shortage of electricity that has seen the Zimbabwe Electricity Supply Authority (ZESA) introduce power cuts. ZESA is also struggling to pay at least USD6-million a month for electricity it gets from Zambia – which has achieved an electricity generation surplus of 1,156MW since a new power plant was built in the north of the country.

Zimbabwe is in desperate need of electricity. The question is whether the development of hydroelectricity will be to the detriment of the tourism sectors in Zambia and Zimbabwe?

Contact WhyAfrica Travel and Tours and check out our sister company Endorphin Expeditions for information about visiting Zambia and Zimbabwe. Read more about Southern Africa’s travel and tourism sectors in the WhyAfrica reports which you will be able to purchase on our online shop early next year. 

Share this article