By Zwelethu Zikhali
Victoria Falls, September 19, 2016 – RESIDENTS of Victoria Falls say they have been exploited enough and want a share of the revenue being generated from the Rainforest and several other natural resources such as wildlife.
Speaking at a national budget consultative meeting at Chinotimba Hall on Friday, residents said they want 30 percent of money generated from the Rainforest.
Thousands of local and international tourists visit the magnificent Rainforest and numbers swell during holidays such as the festive season, Easter and school holidays, earning hundreds of thousands of dollars.
Other attraction sites around the resort include the Zambezi and Chamabondo parks which are all under Zimbabwe Parks and Wildlife Management Authority.
There are also tour activities such as white water rafting, bungee jumping, sunset cruise, canoeing and game drives among others which are operated by private players who pay a certain entry fee to Zimparks.
“We have the Rainforest but we don’t benefit from it. We want 30 percent of money generated from there to be remitted to the town so that the funds can be used for developmental projects,” said a resident.
Victoria Falls Ward 9 Councillor Somvelo Dlamini said besides setting aside a fund for Victoria Falls, government should ensure locals have free access to the Rainforest.
“What pains is that our children learn about natural resources that are on their doorstep from their counterparts from other provinces because they can’t afford the entry fees. Why not have a facility whereby locals are allowed free access,” he said.
It costs $7 for adult locals to access the rainforest while for kids its $4. Foreigners from the region pay $20 while those from outside Sadc and Africa pay $30.
A walk with lions, elephant ride, rafting, boat cruise and canoeing cost an average between $50 and $150 depending on season.
A majority of people who visit Victoria Falls for conferences or as tourists throng the Rainforest and undertake at least one of the activities.
Tourism is a strategic cash cow for the government, contributing about $1 billion to the national fiscus annually.
Government, through its ZimAsset policy, says locals should benefit from resources available in their area.