Leonard Ncube, Victoria Falls Reporter
VICTORIA Falls has launched the second phase of its communication and recovery campaign which seeks to showcase the resort town’s readiness to welcome tourists, with more than 30 000 international prospective travellers reached so far.
The “We are Victoria Falls” campaign is an independent public-private crisis communication and recovery initiative mandated by the Ministry of Environment, Climate, Tourism and Hospitality Industry and supported by World Bank’s International Finance Corporation (IFC) to represent the tourism community of Victoria Falls during and after the Covid-19 pandemic by communicating reliable, up to date information on the destination management of Covid-19, collecting and disseminating information on external trade sentiment to aid preparedness and response and also reinforcing the brand position of the destination.
It is supported by the IFC whose aim is to disseminate information about the destination and reinforcing brand position.
The campaign hinges on health successes where the country has one of the lowest Covid-19 infection rates in Southern Africa, with the last month showing consistent reduction in the infection rate while Victoria Falls remained predominantly healthy throughout the pandemic, according to the campaign organisers.
Phase 1 ran from June to September 2020 and included getting the buy-in and support from local tourism stakeholders as well as building the trust and confidence of external trade partners through getting responses on social media platforms.
Phase Two is starting this month and will run until the first quarter on 2021 when the country’s tourism will be expected to warm up to the peak season.
The campaign consultant Ms Shelly Cox said the campaign is moving to Phase Two now that travel restrictions are being lifted and the destination reopening to international travellers.
“Phase Two will highlight that we are ready to welcome international visitors back to Victoria Falls and Zimbabwe. We have weathered the Covid-19 storm by working together and putting the necessary protocols in place.
“We are open for business. Phase Two will take us to Q1 2021 when we expect Victoria Falls to have fully resumed all the tourism related operations.
“It has done extremely well and we have reached an estimated 30 000 plus people worldwide with the updates of what has been happening in terms of preparedness and response of Victoria Falls to the Covid-19 pandemic,” said Ms Cox.
The campaign’s catch phrases are “We are preparing”, “We are ready” and “We are excelling.”
Ms Cox said they crafted content that amplified messages around crisis response, preparing and community support and solidarity as well as highlighting efforts taking place in the resort town to mitigate Covid-19 threats.
The campaign seeks to vigorously use social media to reach prospective clients who should visit the country’s prime tourism destination.
Lately the country resumed domestic, regional and international flights while 40 percent of tourism related business has also reopened following relaxation of lockdown measures.
The tourism industry expects an additional 20 percent of business to reopen towards the end of the year and full resumption of services in the second quarter of next year.
A competition dubbed the Zimbabwe Destination Development Programme targeting 20 small to medium exceptional tourism experience providers is also being run together with the campaign. — @ncubeleon