Southern African country, Zimbabwe has stated its readiness to welcome back international tourists; while expecting those first set of visitors after the re-opening of all tourism activities, according to Minister of Environment, Climate, Tourism and Hospitality Industry, Nqobizitha Mangaliso Ndlovu to “become the country’s destination ambassadors.”
Tourism industry players have jumped into action amid high hopes after the Government gave the nod to resume all tourism activities including domestic and international flights. Business operations in the sector had virtually come to a halt since the start of lock measures in March, as authorities sought to contain the spread of the deadly COVID-19 pandemic. The re-opening of the sector, however, comes with strict adherence to prevention requirements to ensure travellers’ safety.
Speaking after recent separate meetings with players in the tourism industry in Hwange and Victoria Falls, Minister Nqobizitha Mangaliso Ndlovu, said the Government was satisfied with the state of preparedness to receive a diversity of travellers.
“The tourism industry is ready to welcome back tourists. I met the industry first to update them on a number of developments from a policy perspective so that they can plan accordingly.
“We were trying to encourage each other to continue to improve in terms of our state of preparedness and anticipate opening of international flights from the 1st of October,” said the Minister who was in Matabeleland North last week.
“When our first visitors come, they will be our biggest ambassadors in terms of our state of preparedness. I also wanted to learn from them on challenges that they have been facing as they attempt to prepare to receive visitors.
“I have heard them and we will be discussing with colleagues (Cabinet) on some of the issues. It was a fruitful meeting and I am quite confident that they are ready for both domestic and international visitors.”
Last week, ATQNews.com, the Premier Travel News site had reported that International airlines are expected to start servicing the country on October 1. At the weekend, low-cost airline, fastjet Zimbabwe, confirmed that their domestic flights will commence effectively next week Monday.
It said flights between Harare and Bulawayo will operate every Monday, Wednesday and Friday, starting 21 September while flights between Harare and Victoria Falls will operate every Thursday and Sunday, starting 1 October.
“International flights between Zimbabwe and South Africa are planned to start as from 1 October 2020 subject to the lifting of the travel restrictions by the South African authorities,” said Fastjet.
“On resuming services, the airline will be operating its flights on a reduced frequency, and will be reviewing their programme in line with customer demand.”
The re-opening of flights and sector activities has been widely welcomed by the industry, which the move to catapult tourism back to life by bringing in the much-needed tourists. The Zimbabwe Tourism Authority (ZTA) said the re-start of tourism was a great relief to grassroots communities who stand to benefit more from rejuvenated operations.
Zimbabwe’s tourism sector is largely dependent on international clientele hence it was hard hit by the COVID-19 pandemic, which led to international travel bans. Government has committed itself to helping the industry promote domestic tourism as an alternative while waiting for revival of international travel. The industry has also been called upon to review rates to be favourable to the domestic market and affordable to locals.