Leonard Ncube, Victoria Falls Reporter
PLAYERS in the tourism industry have expressed excitement over the Government’s decision to reopen Victoria Falls borders saying it will breathe a new lease of life to the business ahead of the heroes’ holidays.
Zimbabwe commemorates Heroes and Defence Forces’ Days next month and the period is traditionally one of the busy seasons for the tourism industry, especially with massive movement of locals going for family holidays.
For the second year running, the holiday comes in the midst of Covid-19-induced lockdown, painting a gloomy picture for the leisure industry.
The Government has, however, given hope to the industry by reopening Kazungula and Victoria Falls Border Posts, which are key to movement of tourists into Victoria Falls and the hinterland of Hwange, Binga and Bulawayo.
The country closed inland ports of entry to general human traffic in January as part of measures to curb the spread of Covid-19 following a spike in cases.
The other borders are Pandamatenga in Hwange National Park and Binga as well as Victoria Falls International Airport, which has been open to flights.
The Government has agreed to reopen the two ports to tourists who are fully vaccinated after the country’s tourism capital achieved 60 percent herd immunity.
In separate interviews, tourism industry players said the sector will reap huge dividends from the traffic between Botswana, Zambia and Zambia where there is usually a high number of tourists coming through the land borders.
Hospitality Association of Zimbabwe (HAZ) Matabeleland North chair, Mr Anald Musonza, said: “This decision is very welcome for the revival of our hospitality and tourism industry as the regional tourist traffic within the golden triangle of Botswana, Zambia and Zimbabwe is massive.
“We anticipate that those vaccinated will start travelling within our region and into the hinterland of Hwange, Bulawayo and Matopos and beyond. We are very grateful to Government for making this timely decision as we also look forward to the heroes’ holidays when we should pick some numbers,” said Mr Musonza.
Employers Association for the Tourism and Safari Operators Association (EATSO) national president, Mr Clement Mukwasi, said activities like helicopter flights and cruises have been operating but without any meaningful numbers. He said more activities may now open in anticipation of more people coming.
“Game drives may now open together with other activities. The tri-nation travel between Zimbabwe, Zambia and Botswana has in the past resulted in multitudes enjoying our hospitality hence the reopening of land borders may signal the beginning of the industry’s recovery,” said Mr Mukwasi.
Workers in the industry are also excited the development will bring tourists and save jobs as many have been at home for several months. — @ncubeleon.