Vic Falls vendors struggle with social distancing

By Judith Sibanda

Concerns have been raised over the reluctance by some vendors in Victoria Falls to adhere to strict regulations set by the government to combat the spread of the Coronavirus as they are still going about their usual business.

A resident from the resort town was the first Coronavirus case to be recorded in the country.

“We do not care about Coronavirus, we want money,” said one vendor during a scramble to sell curio carvings to 30 international tourists who arrived in the resort town aboard the Rovos Rail on Monday.  

The train according to Employers of Tourism Association of Tourism Operators (EASTO) president Clement Mukwasi entered the country through Beitbridge border post. 

As soon as it arrived the curio vendors immediately rushed to the train station and started selling their artefacts, offloading bags and boxes belonging to the crew members and tourists before health officials had screened the visiting group.

Victoria Falls Combined Residents Association chairperson Morgen Dube said there was a general lack of appreciation of the seriousness of the pandemic.  

“We don’t know whether they had sanitized their hands or not but they did not have any masks on or even gloves. They only cared about pushing their merchandise and we feel this is unfair to the tourists, the vendor and the whole town at large because if one person gets infected, we will all be wiped out,” he said.

Dube suggested that the Council and government health officials should look into conducting awareness campaigns in the resort town.

One of the vendors who spoke to CITE said it was difficult to practice social distancing due to the economic challenges in the country.

“It’s almost month end and l need to raise money for my rentals and food. The whole town has no single tourist and big companies are closing so honestly who could resist these tourists in fear of the Coronavirus when the economic situation is this bad. We were just trying our luck, there is no offence that we committed,” he said.

Mukwasi added that it was encouraging to see tourists still visiting the country at a time when most tourism operators are being forced to downscale their operations.  

“This gives us hope as the industry players. Those who are Coronavirus clean must be allowed to visit tourist attraction places. These people came via South Africa and they had two doctors, state of the art clinic fully equipped and were tested frequently on their way,” he said.

Tourism players in the country have since resolved to retrench some of their workers due to the Covid-19 pandemic, which has seen bookings fall by 80 percent.

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