Travel bans and cautions have been devastating for Victoria Falls economy.

What does Victoria Falls need to do to recover and grow its share of the tourism market? And how might Masuwe, undeveloped land between the city and airport, enhance the overall offering?  In the second half of 2020, IFC/World Bank employed Freedthinkers to develop a tourism recovery vision for the expanding city.

As this was during the lockdown our core team of researchers could not go to Zimbabwe. However, we found facilitators living in Victoria Falls and tourism professors resident in Harare, who enriched our understanding of local dynamics. Video calls bridged the physical gaps between client, the Freedthinkers team and respondents in the public and private sectors.


We used Human Centred Design to discover the desirable from a broad sample of stakeholders that included decision-makers in the public and private sectors, tour agents, conference centre consultants, hotel managers, service providers and NGOs. This was enhanced by analysis of tourism recovery scenarios.

Victoria Falls – Africa’s centre of wilderness, leisure & adventure

‘Africa’s centre’ establishes Victoria Falls as the KAZA hub of tourism and tourism services.

This vision has cascaded into six interconnected goals, seen below. Each goal has defined strategies.

This is the first stage in City transformation. The next stages need to assess viability, the resilience and sequencing of initiatives.

The work was presented in June, 2021 to public and private sectors over 1,5 days in an event organised by ZIDA (The Zimbabwe Investment and Development Agency). The presentation and subsequent report highlighted growth barriers and opportunities. The transparent process and feedback gave participants belief in a tourism recovery that would make Victoria Falls more attractive and resilient than before.

Following the presentation, African Sun, the major hotel group in Zimbabwe engaged Freedthinkers

Mike Freedman, Pippa Kapelus and seven sector specialists


“The Freedthinkers team delivered an inspiring and well-researched conceptual development framework for Victoria Falls. Despite working under Covid-related travel restrictions the team showed great ingenuity, flexibility and skill in developing relationships and getting the look and feel of the place. It was a great pleasure working with such a rigorous, professional, and human firm – and I hope to do so again in the future.”

Hermione Nevill, Senior Tourism Specialist, IFC