Zim tourism sector to rebound as countries ease travel restrictions

by Patience Rashai -Tourism Correspondent

Zimbabwe’s tourism sector is set to rebound at the back of the recent move by the United States (US) to open up international travel for its fully vaccinated citizens.

According to the Zimbabwe Tourism Authority (ZTA), this move which endorses the idea that it is safe for vaccinated people to start travelling again would speed up the recovery of the industry and allow vaccinated travellers to start returning to Zimbabwe, with other vaccinated countries expected to follow suit.

“Anything that removed travel barriers and encouraged people to start travelling again was positive news for the industry,” said the acting chief executive for ZTA, Givemore Chidzidzi.

This week, the US Centre for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) updated its advisory policy, to allow vaccinated US citizens to travel internationally without the need to quarantine.

“Vaccinated citizens do not need to get tested before leaving the US unless the destination they are visiting requires it, however they do need to show a negative test result (or documentation of recovery from COVID-19) before boarding a flight to the United States,” read CDC’s statement.

According to CDC’s website, travellers should still take steps to protect themselves and others.

“You will still be required to wear a mask on planes, buses, trains and other forms of public transport. Fully vaccinated international travellers arriving in the United States are still required to get tested within three days before their flight and should get tested three to five days after their trip,” advises CDC.

The US is one of Zimbabwe’s source markets for inbound travel and around 20% of the country’s population has been vaccinated for COVID-19 and given the green light to start travelling again.

According to ZTA, tourism contributed 7.2 percent and 6.5 percent of the country’s gross domestic product in 2018 and 2019, respectively. But with business slowing down last year, Zimbabwe’s tourism sector is estimated to have lost at least $1bn in potential revenue, ZTA said.

Clive Chinwada, president of the Hospitality Association of Zimbabwe, added his voice saying that the Victoria Falls had been deeply scarred by the pandemic and the slump in global travel and this could probably lead to a significant change in foreign tourist arrivals and in hotel occupancy rates.

Tourism is an essential part of Zimbabwe’s economy, and a roadmap to expand the industry to $6 billion by 2023 was revealed in November 2020 which the Government still anticipates to see through.