Zimbabwe: Tourism Sector On Cloud Nine As Flights Resume

Players in the tourism industry are excited by the resumption of domestic and international flights, which they say marks the restart of tourism.

The Government on Tuesday lifted the ban on domestic and internationals travel after the country’s aviation sector came up with Covid-19 prevention measures.

The country has been cautiously and slowly re-opening the tourism industry following consultations which culminated in the launch of the National Tourism Recovery and Growth Strategy last month.

Recently the Government allowed tourism activities to restart, bringing hope of recovery to the industry, which had gone for more than five months without business.

In separate interviews, industry players said resumption of airlines marks a return to normal business.

Aviation expert Ms Winnie Muchanyuka, who is Tourism Business Council of Zimbabwe president, said resuming air travel comes at the right time when travellers start preparing for end of year travel.

“From an industry perspective, it’s a welcome development as we will see some traffic flow to the country through those airlines that will be able to connect to Zimbabwe. So, it’s a welcome development that sets us on the way to accrue some traffic that will come through for the Christmas holidays,” she said.

Tourism is largely dependent on air travel as most clients are international.

“Resumption of domestic flights will go a long way where intercity travel remains closed. Airlines have been out of work and revenue since end of March. So, it’s something that we really look forward to get back to be able to re-open our tourism industry,” added Ms Muchanyuka.

She said re-opening air travel will help especially at this point where borders, particularly in South Africa from where the country gets the bulk of its tourists by road, remain closed. As such, Ms Muchanyuka said the Cabinet decision was a step in the right direction.

“Its a good sign and we are really excited about this development, which sets us well on our way to have traffic come through and resume tourism,” she said.

Hospitality Association of Zimbabwe (HAZ) Victoria Falls chapter chair Mr Arnold Musonza said re-opening the aviation sector brings hope to the industry that was almost collapsing.

“We are happy that this decision was made when more and more businesses had started contemplating closure for good. This gives us hope, it’s an exciting announcement by the Cabinet as it helps the resuscitation of our industry, which had been under siege and bleeding from lack of guests and business.

“Revenues had been depressed and this will help our business resume and save jobs as retrenchments had started, thereby losing critical skills within the industry,” he said.

Mr Musonza said the lockdown gave the industry an opportunity to revalue its products and pricing to make sure it accommodates domestic tourism as a starting point before embracing regional and international tourists as all borders open.

Employers Association for the Tourism and Safari Operators president, Mr Clement Mukwasi, said the industry was already revamping activities in anticipation of coming of clients.

“The opening of internal flights is a positive move, which might mark the beginning of our operations. The recovery shall be slow as some people might be cautious to travel at the beginning, but operators are ready to resume the activities,” he said.

“However, take note that there is an ongoing process of making better every facility in the wake of the new world order. We shall improve and innovate in line with international requirements,” he said.