Backstory - Future of tourism in Zimbabwe

A ticket to Zimbabwe. That felt like a gift.

There were three of us on this assignment -- and I realised I could quickly become used to working in a team. There was Dirk Mostert, the cameraman from Johannesburg, who was an understated star, securing some fantastic footage. Alan Moloney, the BBC producer, was brilliantly organised and also wonderfully caring about his team’s welfare in the field. Yep, it might be hard going back to operating solo!

The BBC has a complicated relationship with Zimbabwe and we believed one of our greatest obstacles of this trip might be visas, and accreditation for an United Nations World Travel Organisation (UNWTO) conference co-hosted by Zimbabwe and Zambia. Yet Alan managed to secure the paperwork without a hitch, although admittedly suffering endless form-filling and lengthy waits in embassies. I also realised an old friend Marcelo Risi was the go-to media person at the UNWTO, and he was hugely helpful.

The couple of days we spent at the UNWTO conference were not unpredictable: lots of waiting around to interview ministers -- in between roundtables, thank you speeches and an appallingly inappropriate evangelical blessing by an American preacher. Up close and personal, President Robert Mugabe seemed in good health and strong of voice (he was one of only a few speakers who nailed spelling out the acronym ‘UNWTO’). We secured all the interviews we needed and I even shut my eyes between interviews for a few minutes’ nap -- on the banks of the Zambezi. Ah, the joys of working in a team!

Our time exploring Victoria Falls was interesting and fun: meeting locals (particularly Thule Lenneiye and Christine Gumunyu) and talking to the business community. Not to mention watching the sun go down on the Zambezi while four elephant crossed this wide open river, using their trunks as snorkels for the deeper sections.

Returning to London, I knew this script would be heavily scrutinised and I had to guarantee it was accurate and well-balanced. The editing too needed to be sharp -- and Germaine Muller did a great job.

Now I await the feedback.