Mukudzei Chingwere recently in VICTORIA FALLS
THE country’s premier tourist destination – Victoria Falls – is pinning its hopes of reviving its fortunes on the resumption of domestic tourism.
Tourism, an industry that largely relies on travel both internationally and nationally, has been hard hit by Covid-19 mitigatory measures aimed at avoiding travelling and crowds.
Government has provided $500 million to help the sector remain afloat.
Hospitality Association of Zimbabwe, Victoria Falls chairman Mr Anald Musonza, said the pandemic had seen more clients postponing their trips to next year.
“At some point we did not have occupants and we had to shut down. We started negotiating with our employees to take salary cuts in most cases of up to 50 percent.
“We cried out to Government for help and the $500 million from Government is really welcome and hopefully most of us will be able to access it.
“Domestic tourism is our benchmark for survival at the moment, with borders and airports closed,” said Mr Musonza.
“The domestic tourism is a key enabler for us to remain viable but obviously with restrictions for intercity travel, it has not been easy, our plea to Government is to allow intercity travel. As you can see, we have put in place protocols in our operations to make sure that we receive guests in a safe environment,” said Mr Musonza.
Employers Association for Tours and Safari Operators president, Mr Clement Mukwasi, said most companies closed without collecting money for services provided, salaries and other overheads that were due.
“Normally payment for tourism services is done 90 days after the enjoyment of the activities by international tourists.
“The customer chain is long and the mechanisms of paying are complex. Companies were left very vulnerable and some terminated all fixed term contracts a month after the first lockdown.
“At the moment, a lot of them are retrenching and selling some valuable assets in order to raise money to pay creditors. If the pandemic continues and international borders remain closed, most companies will wind down,” said Mr Mukwasi.
The Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Transport and Infrastructural Development visited Victoria Falls last week and the team, which included Zimbabwe National Roads Administration executives, also visited the multi-million dollar Kazungula Bridge project.
Cde Omega Sibanda, who was part of the law makers team, said they could not say anything since the project involved other countries.
“We just saw the project but we cannot say anything at the moment. We are waiting for Government to give us the lead and then we provide our oversight role,” said Cde Sibanda.