Zimbabwe Plans "Disneyland in Africa" at Victoria Falls

Should this Southern African nation spend millions on boosting its tourism industry after facing a decade of hyperinflation and a highly contentious election?

Posted: 08/28/2013 12:15 PM EDT

Zimbabwe is aiming to become one of the happiest places on earth.

Tourist Minister Walter Mzembi told BBC News about plans to build a “Disneyland in Africa” at Zimbabwe’s famed Victoria Falls resort town to boost the country’s tourism industry.

The complex would cost the government more than $300 million, he estimated.  

"We think it should be modeled along the size and the kind of vision that is on Disneyland, including hotels, entertainment parks, restaurants, conferencing facilities,” Mzembi told BBC. “This is the vision and we need people who can run with it."

Additional plans to increase tourism include a $150 million expansion of the Victoria Falls airport.

After a first quarter that registered a 17 percent increase in visitors, tourism is on track to generate 15 percent to Zimbabwe’s G.D.P if the nation remains stable, reported a tourism official.

This announcement came during the U.N. World Tourism Organization summit, which is being co-hosted in Victoria Falls and in the nearby town of Livingstone, Zambia.

A Geneva-based U.N. watchdog group has criticized the international organization for choosing Zimbabwe after the country’s latest peaceful, yet bitterly contested presidential elections won by long-serving President Robert Mugabe.

"The notion that the U.N. should spin this country as a lovely tourist destination is, frankly, sickening," UN Watch head Hillel Neuer said.

Zimbabwe faced world record inflation and conflict over the past decade.

The wrecked economy recovered in recent years thanks to a power-sharing deal reached between President Mugabe and his opponent, former Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai, in the 2008 election.

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(Photo: XINHUA /LANDOV)

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