The Sunday News
Leonard Ncube, Victoria Falls Reporter
THIS year’s Easter holiday that ends tomorrow, has been subdued for the tourism sector with the industry recording 20 percent bookings for the whole weekend.
Industry players have attributed the low business to limited travel by families because schools are open while those in boarding schools have been confined to their institutions as they were advised against going home because of the Covid-19 pandemic.
Traditionally, Easter is characterised by large volumes of domestic holiday makers comprising families travelling to different resorts countrywide to spend time together.
This year Government decided that pupils in boarding schools should not travel home for the holiday but remain in school although without attending lessons while parents were also barred from visiting their children as a way of minimising possibility of spread of a third wave of Covid-19.
Zimbabwe experienced a spike in Covid-19 cases in December last year after it opened borders to allow for festive season travelling and the result was the deadly Covid-19 variant which killed many people in January.
A snap survey in Victoria Falls on Good Friday showed an insignificant number of visitors although restaurants and hotels were open in anticipation of getting visitors.
The tourism and hospitality sector is counting its losses and Hospitality Association of Zimbabwe (HAZ) local chapter chair Mr Anald Musonza has encouraged locals to adhere to Covid-19 restrictions and vaccinate for the country to achieve 60 percent herd immunity, a tonic needed for revival of tourism.
“With schools open and learners confined to their institutions it has been very quiet so far. It has been very slow so far and on average we have about 20 percent for the whole Easter weekend,” said Mr Musonza.
Industry players hope the recent reopening of restaurants for sit-ins and roll out of vaccination in the tourism and hospitality city of Victoria Falls will boost confidence for travellers to visit the country.
There is hope that the positive developments with regards to management of Covid-19 will catalyse return of conferences especially through Meetings, Incentives, Conference and Exhibitions (MICE) to revive the sector.
Co-owner of the 22-roomed Batonka Guest Lodge, one of the leading hotels in Victoria Falls, Mr Brent Dacomb urged players in the tourism and hotel industry to embrace the ongoing vaccination programme as a rare opportunity to build confidence and catapult the sector back into business.
Mr Dacomb was one of the first hoteliers to vaccinate at Victoria Falls Hospital on the first day of mass roll-out in the company of his wife Laura, also a tourism executive.
“We hope the vaccination is giving oversees people confidence to come and visit Victoria Falls hence everybody especially those in the tourism sector should come and get the vaccine. It was encouraging to see people coming in numbers to vaccinate as it is needed to restore confidence attract international visitors,” said Mr Dacomb. — @ncubeleon