Harare (New Ziana) –The government has implored players in the tourism sector to abide by Covid-19 regulations as they resume operations to preserve gains made in the fight against the pandemic.
The government on Tuesday gave the sector the green light to re-open following a five months hiatus due to the outbreak of the novel coronavirus.
Environment, Climate, Tourism and Hospitality Industry Minister Mangaliso Ndlovu said health and safety guidelines for the sector to re-open safely had been put in place.
“This was in keeping with the overall global policy thrust to strengthen the capacity of the sector to emerge stronger to operate under the new normal,” he said.
“For now all tourism players must go to their drawing boards and begin the process of re-opening our facilities, ensure all our staff are tested prior to commencement and that the guidelines which were developed are religiously followed. Industry must therefore invest in and ensure safe operations through protocols such as temperature check points, contact tracing, recording guests on arrival, physical distancing markings at their premises, deep cleaning and disinfection of the facility among many others.”
Ndlovu said on its part, the government would intensify compliance checks together with the relevant arms of Government to ensure players were fully compliant.
He said modalities for the resumption of domestic and international air travel were still being considered.
Zimbabwe’s airports and borders have been closed to foreign tourists since end of March, with only returning citizens allowed into the country.
“The opening of airports to both domestic and international travel is a decision which is under the active consideration of the government. You will all appreciate that this decision has to be done in a phased, responsible and safe manner, which does not put in danger the well-being of both staff and travelers.
“The decision compels us to meticulously examine and re-examine our airports and the whole tourism value chain to ensure that there is a robust Covid-19 support system to support this re-opening. I wish to assure you that my Ministry continues to work closely with the Ministry of Health and Child Care and the Ministry of Transport and Infrastructure Development, to ensure that as a country we are ready to achieve this,” he said.
“I also wish to appeal to all of us to contribute meaningfully by way of ideas and in whatever way you may, to strengthen our Health and Safety Protocols and systems in readiness for this decision. We need to appreciate that this is a delicate balancing act between saving the economy and strengthening our response systems.”
The tourism sector, which is expected to contract by -7.4 percent in 2020, took the hardest hit from the outbreak of the coronavirus, which was first recorded in Zimbabwe at the end of March.
The pandemic led to the closure of all hospitality and leisure spots and resultantly loss of income for hospitality firms, workers and vendors whose livelihoods are directly dependent on the sector.
Re-opening of the sector is expected to see a recovery in hotel occupancy which took a serious hit, declining from 33 percent in January to as low as 3 percent in March.
The government has said recovery of the sector would initially be premised on domestic tourism as assessments continued to be made on opening the country up to international tourism.