ORGANISERS of the just-ended annual Jameson Victoria Falls Carnival have admitted that the event was too expensive and beyond the reach of local residents.
Most people that attended the carnival were mainly from South Africa, Botswana, Namibia, the United States, Canada, Germany and the United Kingdom as most locals could not afford the entry fees of between $50 and $55.
“We have faced a few challenges, especially on expenses, which is why our tickets are so expensive because we want to have the best carnival,” said one of the organisers Blessing Munyenyiwa.
He said about 500 tickets were given to locals through different operators and they planned to introduce special tickets for locals so that they could be part of event.
Tourism and Hospitality Industry minister Walter Mzembi acknowledged locals were being sidelined, but defended the charges saying Victoria Falls was one of the high-end products.
“The success of any tourism product lies on affordability,” he said.
Locals obviously don’t afford high-end products and Victoria Falls is one such. It is now for the government to develop family theme parks countrywide to cater for locals so they could enjoy recreation.
“We are stuck in a situation where we want to improve tourism and also raise revenue for salaries for the same people who are civil servants.”
However, those that attended the carnival partied at different venues from the bush party at Jafuta on Monday night after a train ride to the Victoria Falls Farm School on New Year’s Eve.
Revellers braved the rains on New Year’s Eve and danced to the music of Beatenberg, Goldfish, Oliver Mtukudzi and Judgment Yard during the three-day féte.
Employers’ Association of Tourism and Safari Operators president Clement Mukwasi said the carnival had more activities than previous events.
“For the first time, our tourism industry was boosted like never before,” he said.
“Rafting and flights recorded more yields, but basically our sales were more than during Christmas. Tourists flooded the resort town in their thousands for the carnival and all the hotels were fully booked this festive season.”