PLAYERS in the country’s major tourism hub, Victoria Falls, have teamed up with other stakeholders in forming a taskforce to tackle the Covid-19 global pandemic and enhance management of resources after its aftermath.
Due to the health and socio-economic crisis induced by the pandemic, Zimbabwe’s hospitality industry has shut down operations in the wake of the 21-day national lockdown, which began last Monday.
Speaking to the Zimbabwe Tourism Authority head of corporate affairs Mr Godfrey Koti’s podcast programme called the ‘Ultimate Tourism Chat’ over the weekend, one of the tour operators and conservationists in Victoria Falls, Mrs Shelley Cox said:
“The tourism hub has really banded together and formed a taskforce here (Victoria Falls) working directly with the authorities and the Ministry of Health to look at not only getting Covid-19 isolation centres in place, but the urgent requirement to best manage the critical months ahead of us.”
Locally, the impact of Covid-19 in the tourism and hospitality industry is increasingly being felt as players in the sector have closed down operations.
Such players in the hospitality sector include Cresta Churchill group and the Zimbabwe Stock Exchange listed hospitality concern, African Sun Limited, which recently closed down 14 hotels and resorts as well as its main corporate office.
Mrs Cox said individuals, privates stakeholders, churches, traditional leaders and the civic society in the resort town were all working in collaboration to do the best they can to ensure medical requirements and food security were put in place as quickly as possible to fight the global pandemic in Victoria Falls.
She said a community awareness programme on Covid-19 has also been adopted and this will have a positive impact on management and conservation of resources in the months to come after the pandemic.
The outbreak and rapid spread of coronavirus poses a significant threat to all of Zimbabwe’s economy, and the tourism sector has not been spared.
Cresta Churchill group spokesperson Mr Stanley Higgins was quoted saying the objective of their closure was in the interests of the health of the group’s staff as well as ensuring the business is protected in such a way it would be able to swing back into operation as soon as when it is safe to do so.
“In making this decision, Cresta decided that it would be guided by the relevant authorities (health and tourism authorities) in deciding when to reopen.
“So, at the moment five hotels are closed until further notice and cognisance will be taken of efforts to move back into operation as soon as the situation is clear enough to do so,” he said.
In addition to Cresta Lodge Harare, Mr Higgins said Cresta Sango Conference had also been closed down and it was important to note that the second reason for the closure was to protect the best interest of customers.