by WELLINGTON TONI
HARARE – ZIMBABWE had anticipated the year 2020 to be a watershed year for the tourism and hospitality sector, with projections of revenues totaling US$1,5 billion.
However, due to the outbreak of the coronavirus (COVID-19), the country forecasts losses of between $500 million and $1,1 billion.
The figures highlight the devastation of the pandemic in the Southern African country’s economic prospects since the scourge led to the imposition of international travel restrictions.
“We were looking at getting about US$1.5 billion at the end of the year from tourism,” Godfrey Koti, Zimbabwe Tourism Authority (ZTA) head of corporate affairs, said.
“That was heavily impacted by COVID-19. We are now anticipating a loss of between $500 million and $1,1 billion,” Koti said.
In the midst of the global crisis, Zimbabwe has turned to revive domestic tourism, which was partially re-opened two weeks ago.
The government has put in place various stimulus packages to fast track this recovery.
There have also been efforts to promote the Kavango-Zambezi (KAZA) transfrontier conservancy area, which has parts of Angola, Botswana, Namibia, Zambia and Zimbabwe.
The Victoria Falls, in the Matabeleland North Province, is seen as the backbone of the revival of domestic and international tourism.
Air Zimbabwe, then national carrier, has also committed to play an active role in the hospitality industry by connecting various local destinations under its Flame Lily brand.
Zurab Pololikashvili, the United Nations World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) secretary-general, believes it is high time tourism was restarted.
“We do so (make the call) on the back of many weeks of hard work and commitment. This crisis has affected us all. Many, at various levels of this sector, have made sacrifices, personally and professionally,” he said.
“In the spirit of solidarity that defines tourism, we united under the UNWTO’s leadership to share our expertise and abilities. Together we are stronger and this cooperation will be essential as we move onto the next stage,” Pololikashvili said in a statement.”
He made the sentiments at the fifth meeting of the Global Tourism Crisis Committee to launch the UNWTO Global Guidelines to recommence the sector.
The document outlines the roadmap and priorities for the sector in the challenging months ahead of providing liquidity for vulnerable businesses to opening borders and coordinating new health protocols and procedures.
– CAJ News