ACTING Tourism minister Jenfan Muswere, pictured, says the country’s hospitality industry is set to turn the corner in the final quarter of this year and beyond on the back of the Victoria Falls’ Covid-19 herd immunity.
Speaking at the official opening of a virtual Sanganai/Hlanganani World Tourism Expo on Wednesday, Muswere said when Zimbabwe was hit by the pandemic, like any destination “we had to strategise on how to keep this vital and usually vibrant sector alive”.
“We, however, look forward to a change in fortunes in the final quarter of the year and beyond, based on the strides made in the global vaccination campaign and our own efforts to make Zimbabwe a safe destination.
“I am happy to advise our regional and international source markets that our tourism capital, Victoria Falls, was prioritised in the national vaccination roll out. The community and the industry also responded positively and this resulted in the city attaining a herd immunity of over 80 percent of all adults,” Muswere said.
The minister commended tourism players for their resilience and mobilising frontline workers to vaccinate, saying this would also give visitors confidence to re-engage.
“Admittedly, the past two years have been by far the most difficult for the Zimbabwean tourism landscape and indeed the entire global community was not spared.
“During the advent of the Covid 19 pandemic, we witnessed a significant drop in tourist arrivals for the year 2020 where we received 639 356 arrivals down from 2,3 million in 2019.
“Although the 2021 statistics are still very low, we would like to appreciate all the travellers who have been visiting our destination during the pandemic.
“There has been a positive and steady inflow of visitor traffic from various source markets, particularly the Americas,” Muswere said.
He said the expected hospitality growth was a result of the national tourism recovery and growth strategy that was launched by President Emmerson Mnangagwa in August last year.
“We recognised that our comeback as a sector has to start by us looking within. Indeed, charity begins at home.
“My gratitude goes to the general populace for heeding the call and travelling locally. This has indeed kept the sector alive…,” he said.