The journey of a Municipality to a City

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Rich with a surfeit of natural endowments that form the haven of tourism and a glut of world-renowned activities came the inevitable upgrade of Victoria Falls to a City. Many have been left wondering as to what prompted this unforeseen positive brand enhancement strategy development; a simple mind will not look any further than the recent development and value that this tiny germ has been harbouring:

  • The US$150million upgrade of the Victoria Falls International Airport resulted in a sharp increase of visitors into the country, translating to the Local Authority’s provision of services to significant volumes of people
  • The frequency with which the town of hosts international conferences and events
  • The number of celebrities and profiled people who visit the destination
  • Generally, in the world, it is described as “the property” and one of the natural world heritage sites
  • The town is of great significance in racking in millions in tourism receipts and the related facilities in investment

Over and above those mentioned above, it makes marketing sense to give the place prestige!

The continuous developments also ushered in the identification of Victoria Falls as one of the first three Special Economic Zones in Zimbabwe; hence, the Local Authority’s aspiration to be elevated to a superior status coincided with the SEZ elevation informs Council’s development thrust.

The resort town was granted Municipality status in 1999 has witnessed tremendous growth in tourism investment, with many more economic enabling advancements established between 1999 and 2020. These developments are anchored on creating employment and expanding the product portfolio of the destination as the population continues to grow, thereby feeding into the Government’s vision 2030 aimed at an upper-middle-income economy.

After several external and internal consultations, Full Council resolved on 27 September 2016 that an application for a City status is made to the Ministry of Local Government, Public Works and National Housing, which prompted the Government to dispatch a commission to assess Victoria Falls’ capabilities.

Following the commission’s recommendations, processes paved the way for the City status proclamation to begin, and Victoria Falls was duly declared a City in December 2020.

It has been worth a wait for the community of Victoria Falls, which was finally granted City status in a move set to bolster the tourism capital’s brand and put it on course to claim its share in the global tourism market.

The celebratory proceedings kick-started when the Minister of Local Government and Public Works, Hon. July Moyo read the Statutory Instrument 285 of 2020 in terms of the Urban Councils Act, through which President Mnangagwa made the proclamation. During the celebrations, the President implored the City leaders to embrace the upgrade to foster progress in the tourism sector.

“Over the years, the City has hosted many world leaders, while conferences and meetings held here have seen the passing of decisions with far-reaching global implications, these include the National Tourism Growth Strategy, the new Victoria Falls Stock Exchange (VFX), the Victoria Falls airport and the overall potential of the Matabeleland North province are indeed a symbol of hope.

“I exalt the City leadership and all stakeholders to utilise the new status to boost our national image towards growing tourism sector and under ongoing national investment, trade and modernisation programs. Furthermore, strong and enabling development control measures must be crafted and promoted to give impetus to the transformation of the City into a world-class Smart City,” said the President.

“Victoria Falls has grown into a beacon of investment in tourism, a trajectory that has seen the establishment of key players in the industry. The Government’s effort in this whole progress has always been visible as buttressed by the promulgation of the town into one of the first Special Economic Zones focusing on tourism and finance and policies that aim to boost the town’s economy,” said Mayor Somveli Dhlamini.

The Town Clerk of the City of Victoria Falls, Ronnie Dube, welcomed the proclamation indicating how it will enhance Victoria Falls as a brand.

 “We are happy to be part of this milestone which will, in turn, change the fortunes and image of our beautiful town in terms of brand recognition and marketability.

“Moreover, I believe the City status will place us and make us visible among other competing big city global brands as one of the key destinations available for choice, different from when we were a Municipality,” added Dube.

Among many investment and tourism development projects, the City is also home to the Victoria Falls Stock Exchange, an institution established in October 2020 and set to unlock direct foreign investment and entice many with money to benefit from the financial hub incentives that are on offer. The blasé of the destination is anticipated to evoke the fires of Monaco into Africa and make Victoria Falls a playground for millionaires and billionaires of the world.

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