by WELLINGTON TONI
HARARE, (CAJ News) – A LOCAL tour operator has urged the government to maintain travel restrictions at least until September in order to save the industry in the wake of a spike in coronavirus (COVID-19) cases in Zimbabwe.
Cases of the virus have escalated to 3,921 cases and 70 deaths in recent days.
The spike in cases, especially local transmissions, coincides with the partial re-opening of the tourism industry as the government eased the lockdown three weeks ago.
Sikhawuliso Sibanda, an executive in the sector urged the government of President Emmerson Mnangagwa to focus on the virus hotspots.
“Maintaining inter-city travel bans, maybe until September-October, would help the government focus on the hotspots,” he said in an interview with CAJ News.
“I just wish the government could take an informed decision by targeting the breeding grounds of COVID-19 and enhance the safety measures by enforcing compliance.”
Sibanda is the Managing Director of Isilwane Travel and Tours and Isilwane Nature Reserve in the second capital, Bulawayo.
Inter-city travel bans were imposed during a lockdown that came into effect on April 1.
Sibanda conceded maintaining the restrictions would negatively affect the sector.
“As you know that when such things happen we expect a government response and which is obvious another closure of business as people won’t be allowed to make movements again,” he added.
According to the Zimbabwe Tourism Authority (ZTA), domestic travelers take the majority of hotel accommodation, with the exception of Victoria Falls, which is dominated by foreign tourists.
ZTA has also noted that while there is potential in the growth of domestic tourism, growth has been slow because of low disposable incomes, poor connectivity, lack of packages and lack of information on
available products and services.
Tourism remains a key industry in Zimbabwe despite taking a knock during years of economic decline and political turbulence.
– CAJ News