Heritage Conservation
...And Zambia Safari

The Battle at Victoria Falls

Believers in heritage conservation were just too worried. Sun international Hotels had won a bid to build a hotel resort, a combo of two hotels at the Victoria Fall. But why the agitation? They thought that heritage conservation and tourism development could not be compatible. This was the belief long before Sun International came on the scene. But Sun International had come!

In the year 2000 two hotels disappeared from the Victoria Falls… One was the "Mosi-oa-Tunya" (yes named after the falls) Hotel built close to the falls and the other was the "Rainbow Lodge" just above the falls.

Politicians were at each other’s throats, false prophets spelt doom like the one that befell the "Dag Stadium," ordinary people feared a loss of two hotels Livingstone town would suffer. This was in the wake of the Zambian government privatization programme.

What brought on this trepidation and discomfort, the battle at Victoria Falls? The people remembered another saga on the other side of Zambia, on the Copperbelt to be exact. The saga was the "Dag Hammarskjoeld Scandal" at Ndola the capital of the Copperbelt Province.

However, this battle is now water under the bridge because 18 months later two beautiful hotels were built on the two sites. And the serene cool refreshing breeze wafting from the falls anoints the hotels. One hotel the Zambezi Sun just minutes from the Victoria Falls is a three star hotel. The other is the five star luxury hotel the Royal Livingstone that overlooks the falls. The low booming sound from the "smoke the thunder" at Victoria Falls lures guests to a dreamless sleep – a recipe for a refreshing morning.

To come back to the point... A marriage between heritage conservation and tourism development works. A good example is the symbiosis in the Sun Hotel Resort right at the front of the world’s superlative natural wonder the Victoria Falls. The falls is the site of the cradle of mankind. But at the beginning of the hotel development, the tearing down and all, brought intense discussions and arguments over:

  1. - The location of the hotel guest rooms,
  2. - The heights and colours of the buildings,
  3. - The lighting of the hotels,
  4. - Waste management of the complex, etc.

These issues heightened the belief that heritage conservation and tourism development are incompatible. That they only clash as opposites.

But behold, this painstaking process culminated in the most eco-friendly hotel resort in the world;

  • Quest rooms fifty metres from the river bank,
  • The height of the buildings just below the tree tops – you cant see both hotels from the road,
  • The environmental friendly colours of the building especially the red Kalahari sand found on the site,
  • The water on the falls throughout the year unlike in the past when the waterfalls was dry between July and December. Now Zambia Electricity Supply Corporation (Zesco) closes its intake to the power station during this time,
  • The environmental friendly linear pattern of the Royal Livingstone guest rooms as opposed to the unfriendly spatial one of the demolished Rainbow Lodge,
  • All the exotic plants were uprooted and in their place over 80,000 indigenous trees were planted,
  • The rich Zambian decorative symbols of prehistoric times adorning the Zambezi Sun Hotel,
  • A rehabilitated falls frontage with safe viewing points etc,
  • and an International Airport to enable visitors fly in from abroad.

All of these ingredients are for a unique marriage between heritage conservation and tourism development. There has been a turn round in beliefs about clashing thoughts on heritage conservation and tourism development.

Two brand new hotels are proof to this. A proof that "tourism provides the capital and incentive for heritage conservation and that heritage in turn provides the foundation for tourism development and an assurance to sustainable investment" such as at Victroia Falls . At Zambia African Safari we believe in that.

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