VICTORIA Falls’ World Heritage status is under threat after two hoteliers at the prime resort town petitioned the World Heritage Commission against noise pollution in the town.
The hoteliers, The Victoria Falls Hotel and the Kingdom, separately wrote to the World Heritage Commission saying noise generated by frequent flights over the Falls and through gorges and the number of licences given to helicopter operators were a cause for concern.
They warned that if left unchecked they “pose the single biggest threat to our status”.
According to letters seen by the Zimbabwe Independent this week, the hotel groups say the flights over the hotel were depriving their guests “of a quiet and relaxing environment”.
“On behalf of the Victoria Falls Hotel, I would like to register a complaint against the helicopters and the noise they produce which has a negative impact on the environment and likewise destroys the atmosphere in our hotel and grounds,” reads the letter.
“Daily we have to endure the noise and constant irritation from these aircraft which fly directly over and above the Victoria Falls Hotel,” the report said.
Said the letter: “If one considers that current hotel occupancies are running at approximately 20% of capacity surely when normal higher occupancies return the environment cannot sustain the impact of the increased flights, increased operators and increased frequency of the helicopters.”
At present there are two operators flying: Zambian United Air Charters with two helicopters, Batoka Skies (three helicopters) and Zambezi Helicopters with two helicopters.
The Independent understands that plans are at an advanced stage to license up to eight more operators.
BY NQOBILE BHEBHE