Zvikomborero Parafini, H-Metro Reporter
Following partial relaxation of the lockdown on the tourism and hospitality sector, the sector is ready to get back to business and the Covid-19 recovery plan is already in place.
Permanent Secretary Munesu Munodawafa said this before the Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Environment yesterday were he said they were elated when cabinet announced that the statutory instrument which had kept the national parks closed would be reviewed approving the opening of national parks, allowed sit-in meals in restaurants that aren’t hotel based and opened up for safari operations for local hunters only.
“This came at a right time because as we know the hunting season is July to about October, operators are urged to exercise caution and they remain bound by the guidelines pertaining to the hospitality and industry conforming to the international standards as we reopen that includes sanitisation, remaining on the 50 people mark, masks and temperature checks.
“On the recovery strategy, we want to acknowledge that the government has already put in place the tourism sector support scheme four weeks ago which comprised the government guarantee of $500 million, tourism revolving fund of $20 million, a waiver of value added tax on all domestic tourism, deferment of liquidation of foreign currency paid by international clients, it was agreed that risking that there can be cancellations, we will encourage visitors to postpone than to cancel their visit.
“The other strategies put in place for revival, resumption and growth of the tourism sector post Covid-19 are to hinge on domestic tourism revival, we appreciate that it will not be soon, its not a question of weeks, it may take months before normal travel can resume by way of tourism, we have seen the countries that have tried to open now there are issues to do with health, selective reopening, so we believe that our tourism and in fact, our strategy hinges on domestic tourism revival.
“What is key is that we will rely on our national institutions like the Zim Parks, the National Museums and Monuments, the Forestry Commission, as well as other operators, we will rely on them to kick start our operations because we believe they have affordable rates to allow resumption of domestic tourism.
“The next level we are looking at is regional tourism promotion, by this we are talking of the frican region, we believe that, subject to the guidelines that will come from the Health ministry, and taking note of the fact that some countries haven’t been hit hard by the pandemic, the strategy will depend on countries were protocols will allow for travel, aggressive marketing campaigns will help us achieve this,” he said.
Munodawafa further highlighted that the sector is also working on service excellence engaging various personnel from all over the world, currently through webinars to improve the services they are offering.