HARARE – Government has with immediate effect allowed the resumption of all tourism activities, which had been suspended following COVID-19 lockdown-imposed restrictions on the country.
The move, however, will face challenges until restrictions on inter-city and inter provincial travel are also removed.
The impact of the pandemic on the tourism sector has been severe with many tourism companies on the brink of collapse.
“The resilience of the sector has been tested to the limit over the last six months. It, therefore, comes as a welcome decision that Cabinet has allowed all tourism activities that had remained shut down as part of the measures to contain the Coronavirus pandemic to now resume full operations,” the Minister of Environment, Climate, Tourism and Hospitality Industry, Mangaliso Ndhlovu, said.
He said government together with tourism stakeholders have collaborated to develop health and safety guidelines, which were approved by cabinet, detailing protocols which need to be followed to enable the whole sector to re-open safely.
“During this period, the ministry led widespread consultations under strict social distancing conditions, which led to the development of the National Tourism Recovery and Growth Strategy.”
President Mnangagwa launched the strategy in Victoria Falls recently.
Activities that have been allowed to resume include all boat operations, game drives, bungee jumping, zip liners, helicopter rides, lion walks, elephant rides and all registered tourism activities.
The sector was under threat from massive retrenchments and it hopes that its reopening will help save jobs.
Some companies sent employees on forced leave and most were on half salaries with others on unpaid leave. The impact was more severe in towns such as Kariba and Victoria Falls, which are predominantly tourism reliant cities.
Ndlovu said the opening of airports to both domestic and international travel was under active consideration with a decision on domestic airports already made and awaiting official announcement.
“The decision compels us to meticulously examine and re-examine our airports and the whole tourism value chain to ensure that there is a robust Covid-19 support system to support this re-opening”.
“Industry must therefore invest in and ensure safe operations through protocols such as temperature check points, contact tracing, recording on arrival of guests, physical distancing markings at their premises, deep cleaning and disinfection of the facility among many others.
“On its part, Government will intensify compliance checks together with the relevant arms of Government to ensure players are fully compliant”.
The Zimbabwean government envisions a US$5billion tourism economy by the year 2025 –Financial Express.