Tourism sector frets over renewed foreign travel ban

02 Dec, 2021 - 00:12 0 Views
Tourism sector frets over renewed foreign travel ban Mr Clement Mukwasi

The Chronicle

Leonard Ncube, Victoria Falls Reporter
THE renewed travel ban imposed on Zimbabwe and other Southern African countries by Western countries, together with new Covid-19 restrictions announced by Government will have a negative bearing on the tourism sector, industry players have said.

Zimbabwe, South Africa, Botswana, Lesotho, ESwatini and Namibia were added to the travel red list last Thursday while Malawi, Mozambique, Zambia and Angola were added on Sunday.

The United Kingdom announced that from Sunday non-residents who have been in those countries in the previous 10 days will be refused entry into England.

This followed detection of the new Omicron Covid-129 variant in South Africa, forcing some global nations to impose travel restrictions on Sadc countries including Zimbabwe.

On Tuesday Cabinet also resolved to put on hold requests from the tourism industry to further open up travel as Government activated increased monitoring, surveillance and enforcement of protocols at entry points following the outbreak of the new Omicron Covid-19 variant.

The tourism industry was showing signs of recovery especially in the last three months with back-to-back local and regional conferences.

In separate interviews yesterday, tourism executives said all the gains that had been made so far, backed by domestic tourism, will be erased.

Employers Association for the Tourism and Safari Operators national president Mr Clement Mukwasi said there is need for change of focus.

“This is really tragic. We are a few days towards the festive season and a new variant comes around. Our focus has to now change.

Domestic tourism should be our new priority and we hope that we will be out of this red list condition urgently,” he said.

Mr Mukwasi, however, said the industry is well equipped to follow all World Health Organisation (WHO) guidelines in its operations.

Tourism Business Council of Zimbabwe president, Mr Wengayi Nhau, said no visitors will be interested to travel with the new restrictions, mandatory quarantine and ban unless they really have compelling and essential reasons to visit.

“What we are seeing is a situation whereby whatever gains we had made since September when the country was partly opened will be erased,” he said.

“Operators were on the right path to recovery but now one has to wait and see and we are going to reverse whatever gains we had done towards recovery and to get our industry back to its feet,” said Mr Nhau.

He said domestic tourism has been doing well and on the right path to recovery, with capacity to keep industry running especially after meetings and conferences were allowed to happen.

Mr Nhau said regional and international travel was also on the right path to recovery with flights recording a good number of passengers coming into the country.

“But the ban in Europe and other countries in Africa, and recent imposition of restrictions by Government would mean we are going to have a complete grinding halt to regional and international market which play a key part is an far as foreign currency is concerned,” he said.

Hospitality Association of Zimbabwe Matabeleland North chair Mr Anald Musonza said the industry will be back into trying times.

He said the past three days had seen most players receiving cancellations of bookings due to the travel restrictions.

“When we thought we were turning the corner in our recovery path, now we can see huge challenges ahead of the festive season that was looking busier than the last two years,” he said.

“Our own measures announced yesterday have added to the pressure on more tourists cancellations of their trips as there is now more added uncertainty on ease of travel. “This is a huge blow to our recovery path and we implore Government to reconsider some of the restrictions like quarantine as this means no one will want to come and be stuck in a quarantine facility when they should be enjoying their holiday,” said Mr Musonza.

He appealed for measures that facilitate tourism survival, adding that the industry was on a recovery path as shown by re-employment of most workers who lost jobs during lockdown.

The new developments could see more job losses and potential company closures due to lack of business.

Mr Musonza encouraged people to get vaccinated and protect the industry from collapsing. – @ncubeleon.

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