George Maponga

Masvingo Bureau

THE Government has unveiled a tourism development plan for the giant Tugwi-Mukosi Dam in move expected to pave way for exploitation of tourism opportunities around the county’s largest inland water body.

The plan comes as work on the dam’s master plan has kicked off following the roping in of universities to help in its crafting, as President Mnangagwa’s administration pulls all the stops to make sure the idle reservoir is fully utilised.

The tourism development plan, among other things, entails designation of areas where lodges and hotels will be sited around the dam.

It also includes demarcation of the proposed game park in the Tugwi-Mukosi buffer zone.

The whole tourism package planned for Tugwi-Mukosi will make the dam one of the best tourist destinations in the country.

A delegation led by permanent secretary in the Ministry of Environment, Climate, Tourism and Hospitality Industry Mr Munesushe Munodawafa recently visited the dam where the tourism development plan was unveiled.

This development triggered resumption of work in various tourism-related spheres at Tugwi-Mukosi that will fit into the main master plan.

ZimParks spokesperson Mr Tinashe Farawo said the planned national park around the dam was one of the key projects under the tourism development plan.

“ZimParks has always had a presence at Tugwi-Mukosi, especially in the area of law enforcement with a focus towards poaching and the tourism development plan for Tugwi-Mukosi also encompasses the planned national park in the buffer zone,” he said.

“We have started work on the planned park and the unveiling of the tourism development plan has added impetus to what we are doing.”

The scenic topography in the dam’s immediate environment makes it ideal for building of lodges and hotels.

Investors are expected to troop to Tugwi-Mukosi once the main master plan is out.

“The tourism development plan also touches on areas like fisheries to see how it must be done and these things have no effect on the master plan, hence they can start being implemented now,” said Mr Farawo.

Several fishing co-operatives in the adjacent Chivi and Masvingo districts have been licensed to operate at Tugwi-Mukosi, joining other established traditional fish breeders that have set base there.

The Government resolved to immediately focus on development of anchor projects at Tugwi-Mukosi, while waiting for the main master plan that will also include the irrigation development plan. The anchor projects include recreational shipping and opening of a dry harbour, building navigation masts and development of a mini-hydro power plant.

Some of the anchor projects have kicked off while others are in the pipeline.

Unveiling of the tourism development plan will give impetus to the ongoing drive to fully utilise Zimbabwe’s biggest inland water body built at a cost of US$270 million and commissioned in May 2017.

Plans to establish a national park in the buffer zone of the dam will see additional families being relocated from their homes.

In 2014, flooding in the Tugwi-Mukosi basin after incessant rains, precipitated one of the largest mass evacuation of people in post independent Zimbabwe, which saw families and their livestock that were threatened by floods being relocated to Chingwizi in Mwenezi.

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