International media have recently reported that the Victoria Falls are almost dry, showcasing images and a video.
This is far from the truth, according to latest statements from various Victoria Falls stakeholders.
The African Travel and Tourism Association (Atta), in a press release, noted that the association had had discussions with various members to clarify these reports and has confirmed with the Zambezi River Authority that current records show that the water levels are, once again, consistently rising.
“Whilst we are cognisant that climate change is a growing concern on a global level, and that it is potentially having an impact on countries throughout the world, what has been lacking in the media reports is an insight into the historic seasonal patterns and the resultant changes in water flow that are vital pieces of information to ensure a clear perspective is maintained,” said Atta.
Although Zimbabwe has experienced severe drought this year, the water levels of the Zambezi and the flow levels over Victoria Falls have remained above those recorded over the 1995/1996 drought period.
Tour operators in Zimbabwe have created a hashtag ‘Victoria Falls Is Not Dry’ to counter the damage already caused by incorrect press reports. African Conservation Travels (ACT) issued a press release following Atta’s media statement, criticising the press for false reports concerning the Falls.
“It has been irresponsible of the international media, in their efforts to create awareness around climate change issues, to have created such a negative impact on a vital sector in the region that supports thousands of livelihoods,” said ACT.
Thompsons Africa’s General Manager of Procurement and Product Development, Renier Friis, recently returned from Zimbabwe. His photos of the Vic Falls show cascading water, unlike what has been depicted in international media. “I was at the Victoria Falls two weeks ago and the Falls are still as awe-inspiring as ever. Tourists should remain assured that the Falls are not drying up,” Friis told Tourism Update. He said the suppliers in the region were worried about the impact of the negative media. “It’s a major misinterpretation of what happens every year,” said Friis.
Godfrey Koti, Head of Corporate Affairs of Zimbabwe Tourism Authority, said the authority recognized that climate change was an important global phenomenon but was disappointed by negative publicity around the Falls. “As the authority, we would like to put it on record that the Falls are not dry at all. We are coming out strongly against this bad publicity that has befallen our premier tourism product and are assuring stakeholders that there is nothing as spectacular as the Victoria Falls,” Koti said.