By Edward Mukaro
THE Government of Zimbabwe has urged industry to invest in the Tourism Sector, as the sector looks to re-bounce after the government announced key measures that will see the sector’s operators resume operations after a six-month COVID- 19 forced break, as Zimbabwe joined the world in implementing lockdowns to curb the pandemic.
The nation has since approved the National Tourism Recovery and Growth Strategy that was launched by His Excellency, the President Emmerson Mnangagwa, in August 2020, in Victoria Falls.
Addressing journalists at a press conference, in Harare, minister of Environment, Climate, Tourism and Hospitality Industry, Hon. Nqobizita M. Ndhlovu on the resumption of tourism post-COVID- 19 pandemic said, “Industry must therefore invest in and ensure safe operations through protocols such as temperature checkpoints, contact trading, recording on arrival of guests, physical distancing markings at their premises, deep cleaning and disinfection of the facility among many others.
“I also wish to appeal to all of us to contribute meaningfully by way of ideas and in whatever way you may, to strengthen our Health and Safety Protocols and systems in readiness for this decision (resumption of tourism post-COVID- 19 pandemic).
“We need to appreciate that this is a delicate balancing act between saving the economy and strengthening our response systems. For now,” he said.
Ndhlovu said government’s decision to open the tourism gates would also highly benefit resort towns that usually depend on tourism.
“The negative impact of the Coronavirus induced shutdown was felt across the whole tourism sector and its value chains. However, the impact was more severe in towns such as Kariba and Victoria Falls, which are predominantly tourism reliant cities.
“We hope that with this decision to reopen, the sector will breathe life into the sector and allow us to pick up the pieces again.”
The decision by Cabinet is indeed welcome as it comes at a time when massive retrenchments were looming in the sector and such layoffs would have threatened the many lives that are dependent on tourism for survival.
The United Nations World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO) released data on the impact of the pandemic on tourism, both in terms of lost arrivals and lost revenues. The data shows that by already the end of May, the pandemic had led to US$320 Billion in lost revenues, already three times the cost of the 2009 Global Economic Crisis.
By Edward Mukaro