…as locals comes to rescue of tourism over the festive period
The occupancy levels for Victoria Falls Hotels averaged 75% over the festive season but would have been even higher if there were no travel restrictions during the period as it affected most of the tourists, ETimes has learnt.
Tourism is one of the sectors most affected by the Covid-19 pandemic, impacting economies, livelihoods, public services and opportunities on all continents.
Hospitality Association of Zimbabwe (HAZ) Matabeleland chair Anald Musonza told this publication that the festive season was rescued by the local domestic tourism.
This comes as most internationals and the diaspora traffic failed to travel in numbers due to the 10 day quarantine requirements.
“The added requirements to also test at the airport whether one has a negative PCR test or not affected a lot of potential visitors who eventually cancelled en masse,” he said.
“The efforts to lure domestic tourists have started yielding results as we had more and more of our booking from locals from Bulawayo, Gweru and Harare who came to our Resort City. The whole Resort was quite busy for 10 days with an average occupancy of about 75%.”
Players in the hotel industry have a strong solid base of domestic tourism. He said revival of the industry is going to be much faster by removal of all travel restrictions as most of their source markets have removed the country from red lists.
“All we need to do is to remove our own restrictions in quarantine requirements and aligning the PCR test to the regional requirements of 72hrs or longer,” he said.
Thanks to locals boosting domestic tourism, but as holidays come to an end, occupancy levels are likely to continue down. For now, experts say most of the focus should be on ensuring domestic tourism reaches its full potential while waiting for the easing of travel restrictions for foreigners.
“The months of Jan- March are dead with single digit average occupancy under 10%. We anticipate a change of fortunes this year as more and more people have experienced fatigue with lockdowns and the pent up demand is now for almost 2 years of lack of international travel,” Musonza said.
“We foresee more and more people accepting the need to work around Covid-19 pandemic and still travel in a safe way. We are lucky in Destination Zimbabwe that we have so many open spaces, great nature and facilities that allow people to travel in safe bubbles as families or groups of friends.”
Most important thing for the long term welfare of the local business sector depends on a successful vaccination campaign and a return to normalcy. Destination Victoria Falls has the highest vaccination uptake numbers with over 90% of people fully vaccinated and ready to host tourists.
Victoria Falls, which was declared a tourism Special Economic Zone (SEZ) by the government, has eight hotels and 45 lodges with a combined capacity of about 3 800 beds.
Under the National Tourism Recovery and Growth Strategy — Vision 2025, the government targets to increase tourist arrivals to over 5.5 million by 2023, as well as growing tourism receipts from $1 billion in 2017 to $3.5 billion by 2023 – Harare