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ZTA says Econet Vic Falls Marathon set to boost tourism

13 June 2022

The Zimbabwe Tourism Authority (ZTA) says the Econet Victoria Falls Marathon, which is set to be held in the scenic resort town on July 3, 2022, will help drive the revival of the country’s tourism sector. The popular marathon is coming back to Victoria Falls after a two-year hiatus caused by the Covid-19 pandemic, which had significantly impacted the industry in a negative way. Covid-induced travel restrictions had hit demand for travel, resulting in a massive fall in tourist visitors to the country. 

This sadly saw the loss of close to 10 000 jobs, while nearly 40 hospitality facilities were shut down, according to official figures. 

However, global vaccination initiatives and the significant fall in new Covid cases and deaths, along with the re-opening of international borders, have resulted in tourists coming back to Zimbabwe.  

“We are quite excited with the Econet Victoria Falls Marathon coming back with more than 5 000 participants from various countries in the region and around the world expected to take part in the event. This is great news for tourism,” said ZTA spokesperson, Mr Godfrey Koti.  

“We are pushing this event under the banner of sports tourism, and we are very happy that we have started seeing a return of normalcy in a way, hosting of events and people meeting physically.” The Econet Victoria Falls Marathon has over the years become one of the most popular events on the world’s sporting calendars, attracting both veteran and new athletes from as far afield as Australia, New Zealand, Canada, the United Kingdom and the United States of America, among other countries. 

Mr Koti said this year’s participants will have a chance to explore other exciting activities around the resort town such as white-water rafting, bungee jumping and game drives to boost the tourism industry, which contributes 6,3 percent of the National Gross Domestic Product, with a value of US$1,23 billion. 

Government recently introduced a number of incentives to ensure the sector moves towards sustainable recovery and growth from the impacts of the pandemic so that it becomes a US$5 billion industry by 2025. In line with Government’s thrust to revive the tourism industry and protect jobs, Econet Wireless Zimbabwe has rebranded this year’s marathon “Run the Big Three” to lure more tourists and athletes to the country. 

“This year’s Econet Victoria Falls Marathon has three routes – the Elephant Route, the Leopard Route and the Lion Route,” said Econet spokesperson, Mr Fungai Mandiveyi, while announcing the return of the marathon recently.  

“Seasoned athletes will battle it for the top honours along the ‘Elephant Route’, the full 42km marathon, while veteran and amateur athletes will test themselves in the ‘Leopard Route’, which is our traditional 21km half marathon,” he said. 

“Families, young children, along with ‘social’ and first-time runners, will take part in the popular 7,5km fun-run, that we are calling the ‘Lion Route.’”  This year’s marathon is also a qualifying race for the 2022 Comrades Marathon to be held on August 28 in South Africa.