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Covid-19 second wave negatively impacts tourism recovery prospects

The second wave of Covid-19 being experienced in a number of countries across the globe will negatively impact Zimbabwe’s tourism recovery prospects, with a key player in the industry, African Sun Limited (ASL), having said international travel is likely to remain subdued owing to the resurgence of the pandemic.

Zimbabwe is currently promoting domestic tourism following six months of inactivity in the sector when the country went into the Covid-19-induced lockdown in March.

While many countries have moved to open their borders, the rising cases of coronavirus world-wide are now threatening recovery prospects.

Locally, a total of 95 new Covid-19 cases were recorded Tuesday, as cases continue to rise.

The country has to date recorded 10 129 cases, 8 643 recoveries and 277 deaths

South Africa, one of the country’s key tourism source markets has since surpassed 780 000 cases and has the highest cases and deaths per capita in the SADC region.

Despite the reopening of borders and resumption of international flights, most travellers are discouraged by the requirements to self-isolate or quarantine for extended periods upon arriving at the holiday venues,” said ASL secretary Venon Musimbe. 

“In the short term this will continue to hamper efforts to boost international tourism.”

The group, which had shut its hotels in March as a result of the pandemic-induced lockdown, has however since opened all of them.

“Looking ahead, we expect international business to remain subdued over the coming months due to the resurgence in Covid-19 cases in our key source markets,” he said. 

“This second wave of infections requires continued diligence and dexterity to manage costs and preserve cash. However, we remain cautiously optimistic that we will continue to see a modest uplift in domestic and regional demand in the short term.”

The Ministry of Environment, Tourism and Hospitality Industry has been allocated ZWL$1.8 in the 2021 national budget while the government has additionally, exempted VAT on all tourism services for domestic tourists in a bid to reduce the prices of tourism products and services. 

“The recently launched ZIMBHO/Vakatsha promotion (domestic tourism campaign) will also help encourage locals to visit tourist attractions in the country,” recently said Finance and Economic Development Minister, Mthuli Ncube, while presenting next year’s budget.

“Cognisant of the expected slow recovery of the global tourism market as countries cautiously re-open their economies since the onset of the pandemic, the industry’s focus is initially on the domestic market,” he said.

“Efforts are being channelled towards extensively promoting domestic tourism development in close collaboration with the tourism private sector. Products are expected to be affordable and exciting to the local market taking advantage of the easing of restrictions on travel and gatherings.”

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