Plans to build Zimbabwe’s “Disneyland in Africa” are a go. The project has been invested in by undisclosed Beijing sources. A “memorandum of understanding” has already signed by both the African and Chinese parties.
It is thought that the construction of the USD300 million Disney-style theme park (unaffliated with the Mouse himself) will lead to further expansion of Zimbabwe’s tourism market. The aim is to build a tourism industry worth USD5 billion by 2020. The move comes as the country is attempting to shake off its bad reputation. Zimbabwe’s tourism minister Walter Mzembi told Newsweek, “Tourism is a peace sector and tourism is a peace bridge. It has worked for us very well. We are not the bad boy of the world in Zimbabwe anymore, not at all.”
The new theme park and resort will be located near Victoria Falls, which itself is already a popular attraction and UNESCO World Heritage site.
This is just one of the many economic deals struck between China and Zimbabwe as Chinese President Xi Jinping and Zimbabwe’s leader Robert Mugabe’s relationship grows stronger. China has invested greatly in Africa over the years. Earlier this year, it was announced China was investing USD4 billion to fund railway links for major cities in Kenya. And in 2015, USD40 million worth of debt owed to China by Zimbabwe was written off. Relations have continued to grow between the two. Now the yuan, China’s currency, is legal tender in Zimbabwe. Those involved with the theme park are conducting feasibility studies and drawing up plans. It is hoped that after this development, there will be more modern conference centers, hotels, villas and museums in the area in the near future. To kickstart building up this area as a tourist hub, construction on Victoria Falls International Airport began in December of 2016. The airport is expected to hold up to 1.5 million passengers per year. The aim is to make the area a destination spot similar to Niagara Falls. Mzembi did not name the Beijing investors for the project, but indicated that they were from a Chinese state-run company.