from OBERT SIAMILANDU in Kariba, Zimbabwe
KARIBA – BRITISH billionaire Richard Branson has been applauded for visiting the Zambezi Valley in Zimbabwe.
Branson, one of the world’s richest men, is the owner of Virgin Galactic.
He arrived in Zimbabwe last week aboard budget airline FastJet to take part in the Zambezi Valley Walk for Wild Expedition covering Mana Pools and Matusadona National Parks.
The month-long conservation walk which started on June 6 covered a distance of more than 330km in an area boasting of 6,3 million acres of a diverse wildlife habitat.
“The goal of the expedition is to encourage a wide range of participants to spend time immersed in the landscape, with the opportunity to envision what the sustainable future of this iconic valley could look like if resources were combined effectively,” the Zimbabwe Elephant Fund (ZEF) said in a statement.
Branson left last Wednesday after a week-long stay in the jungle.
The Zimbabwe Tourism Business Council (ZTBC) president Wengayi Nhau told CAJ News Africa the billionaire’s visit was a boon for tourism.
“When you have outstanding personalities or celebrities of the calibre of Richard Branson and other individuals that are of his calibre, you attract the world’s attention,” Nhau said.
“As you probably know that the world is now digital, people are following a lot of events and developments on social media and having a person like Richard Branson who has such a huge following on social media participating in such an activity is a plus to us as a tourism sector,” Nhau said.
“I remember years back we had Michael Jackson, Don Williams, and Bill Gates just to mention a few. These are opinion leaders, they hold a greater amount of influence.”
He also hoped Branson took the opportunity to explore business opportunities in Zimbabwe.
“Most investors do come as tourists when they come to scout for business opportunities. So it’s our hope that being the owner of one of the biggest airlines in the world, looking at our historical links between Zimbabwe and Britain he could also be scouting for investment opportunities,” Nhau said.
The Zambezi Valley Walk for Wild Expedition is the brainchild of John Stevens and ZEF. Stevens is a renowned warden of both Mana Pools and Matusadona National Parks.
The walk was mooted two years ago with the aim of bringing together conservation stakeholders and enthusiasts in a collaborative effort focusing on conservation success as well as highlighting the challenges and ongoing needs of the landscape.
In 2015 Stevens was inspired by the extinction of the wild rhino he had witnessed in the area in the 1980s, and thought of taking action in case the same happened to elephants, with the assistance from Zimbabwe Parks and Wildlife Management Authority.
This led to the formation of the Zimbabwe Elephant Fund.
– CAJ News