BY WINSTONE ANTONIO
MATETSI Victoria Falls Luxury Safari Lodge has scored big in the Zimbabwean tourism sector after it emerged as the best African resort in the 2021 edition of the Travel & Leisure World’s Best Awards.
The award follows a leisure survey conducted by Travel Leisure Magazine — one of the most reputable travel and tourism publications, with over 35 million readers.
The award came as Matetsi on Wednesday celebrated its fifth year of operation since reopening.
Co-founder Sara Gardiner said it has been an eventful five years.
“A key part of our mission is to showcase to a global audience everything exceptional about our beautiful home country Zimbabwe. From stunning landscapes, incredible wildlife, the mighty Zambezi River, of course the spectacular Victoria Falls and most importantly our warm authentic Zimbabwean hospitality,” Gardiner said.
“In what has been an extraordinary 18 months for the world and in particular, the travel and tourism industry due to COVID-19-induced lockdowns, this prestigious award is testament to the commitment and dedication of our Matetsi family and the lasting joy with which they leave our guests.”
She added: “It has been part of our vision to position ourselves as the number one lodge in Africa and in doing so, show the world how exceptional our country and our people are. This top ranking shines a light on both Matetsi Victoria Falls, and also on Zimbabwe as a tourism destination.
“Currently, we protect 55 000 hectares of land that is dedicated to wildlife conservation as well as 15km of Zambezi River frontage. We are also able to create employment, upskilling opportunities for Zimbabweans as 176 people are employed here”
She said Matetsi Victoria Falls’ long-term vision is to be the example of how a single tourism operator can benefit not just a local area and economy, but a whole country by changing global perceptions and understanding.
Wednesday was a night to remember as the Matetsi family was joined by guests, including Environment minister Nqobizitha Mangaliso Ndlovu in celebrating the milestone.
Ndlovu said the award was a great endorsement of destination Zimbabwe.
“This has not come on a silver platter, but it is a clear testimony and celebration of astute investment and hard work by yourselves, your management team and indeed all your staff. A true reflection of the meaning of teamwork,” he said.
“This speaks volumes of your product quality and high service delivery levels. For, indeed, it is one thing to have excellent and world-class infrastructure, but if it is not well looked after, and if there is no attention to detail in terms of hospitality, you would still not get the best out of your investments.”
Ndlovu said the attention being received by Matetsi as the best hotel in Africa after winning the accolade would no doubt excite more tourists to visit, not just Matetsi, but Zimbabwe at large.