Zimbabwe reopens tourism sector after five months of closure

 Saturday, September 5, 2020 

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After nearly five months of closure due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Zimbabwe has finally reopened its tourism sector. The official reopening was recently announced by Environment, Climate, Tourism and Hospitality Industry Minister Mangaliso Ndlovu.


Minister Ndlovu said that the tourism sector was largely disrupted and one of the hardest hit by the pandemic and the decision to fully reopen the sector was meant to forestall further job cuts and revenue losses in one of the country’s important sectors of the economy.


However, he also mentioned that it is highly essential for the tourism industry to observe COVID-19 health and safety regulations, in order to minimize the spread of the disease. He announced that following cabinet approval, all tourism activities now have the permission to resume operations. He expressed that authorities hope that the decision to reopen the sector will breathe life into the industry and allow everyone to pick up the broken pieces again.


It was announced that the Cabinet had since approved the resumption of domestic flights to boost the tourism sector, with considerations being made on when to open inter-city travel to boost domestic tourist arrivals from other cities. Government has also announced that the tourism sector is expected to contract by 7.4% in 2020 due to the economic fallout from the COVID-19 pandemic.


It has also been announced that permitted tourism activities include but are not limited to game drives, bungee jumping, zip liners, helicopter rides, lion walks, elephant rides and all registered tourism activities. Boat operations on lakes for both tourism and fishing are also allowed to resume operations as boating industry is a key anchor of the tourism industry in areas such as Kariba.


Minister Ndlovu also mentioned that the negative impact of the COVID-19-induced shutdown was felt across the whole tourism sector and its value chains, particularly in Kariba and Victoria Falls, which are highly dependent on tourism. He added that the decision by the Cabinet is largely welcomed as it comes at a time when massive retrenchments were looming in the sector and more layoffs would have threatened the many lives that are dependent on tourism for survival.

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