Leonard Ncube and Lingani Nyika, Chronicle Reporters
SIGNIFICANT bookings were recorded in boat cruise and high wire activities during this year’s Easter holiday but business was low on the accommodation side.
The Easter holiday started on Good Friday and ends today before the normal work and school schedules resume tomorrow.
Easter and Christmas holidays are traditionally peak periods for the local tourism industry as they are characterised by huge arrivals and bookings around resorts and leisure places.
Domestic tourists usually top the travel list during Easter while the festive season has also over the years recorded significant numbers of regional clients visiting Zimbabwe for the Victoria Falls Carnival that takes place in December.
However, for the second year running Easter has been subdued because of travel restrictions and lockdown as land borders remain closed while most countries are also yet to lift restrictions on international travel in an effort to curb Covid-19.
Families usually travel during Easter for gatherings and spending time with their children but this year the fact that schools are open and learners who attend boarding schools were barred from leaving their institutions meant less traveling.
Traditionally, Victoria Falls streets would be a hive of activity with scores of people moving about while many will be sampling different activities around the city.
In the past week, streets were quiet with a few occasional sit-ins at restaurants.
Employers Association for the Tourism and Safari Operators (EATSO) national president Mr Clement Mukwasi said significant bookings were recorded in boat cruise and high wire activities as well as tour of the Falls.
“It looks like high wire activities have attracted quite a lot of tourists this Easter compared to last year. The same applies to cruises that are running at full capacity because of the reduced numbers that have been prescribed due to Covid-19 rules where operators must carry 50 percent of their capacity.
“So, we have had full bookings for cruises and a lot of people coming in to do high wire activities as well as touring the Falls. We also had a lot of people visiting food outlets where sit-ins are now allowed for a limited number of people,” said Mr Mukwasi.
Without giving statistics, Mr Mukwasi said a majority of tourists were locals from Hwange, Bulawayo and Harare among other places.
Some of them were one-day trippers who visited Victoria Falls to do activities and drove back without sleeping over, a trend that is popular mostly with Zimbabweans who have expressed concern that accommodation charges are beyond their reach.
Mr Mukwasi said there were few people from the region especially from South Africa, probably because of the fact that land borders are still closed.
A quick check in the central business district yesterday showed clear streets and mostly no customers at restaurants around the CBD.
Usually, restaurants get brisk business late afternoon and evening when tourists return from other activities.
The news crew was told that there was a bit of activity at the Crocodile Farm near Zambezi River where some locals were enjoying time playing with the reptiles.
Hospitality Association of Zimbabwe (Haz) local chapter chair Mr Anald Musonza said business was very low on the accommodation front.
He said the industry pins hopes on the ongoing vaccination exercise especially in Victoria Falls to boost confidence among travellers.
“This Easter holiday remained very quiet and we hope for better days going forward,” he said.
The low business also affected taxi drivers who usually record brisk business during such holidays.
“So far there are no clients. We were expecting better business during the holiday since people have been vaccinated but it is actually the opposite. The whole week has been quiet and today we have been parked with no single client,” said Mr Viyani Ncube of Vee Taxis. — @ncubeleon