from WELLINGTON TONI in Harare, Zimbabwe
HARARE, (CAJ News) – ZIMBABWE’S hospitality industry is worried over the escalation of the coronavirus (COVID-19) cases coinciding with the partial re-opening of the sector by the government.
Three weeks after restrictions around the sector were eased, cases of the pandemic have topped 2 700 and 36 deaths at the time of publication.
“We are concerned by the rising number of cases,” Clive Chinwada, the Hospitality Association of Zimbabwe (HAZ) president, lamented.
“We however believe that the nation has had adequate time to prepare for this eventuality from both an education perspective to stop the spike and of course the state of our health institutions.” Chinwada also believes members of the public are empowered to make the necessary behavioral changes.
President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s government has imposed a curfew between 6pm and 6am to curtail the spread of the virus.
Shops and businesses are now open up to 3pm.
Public transport into the central business districts is now limited, except for essentials like medicines, food and gas.
Chinwada said the hospitality industry had been championing protocols to mitigate the spread of the virus.
“Our industry has been, and is, at the forefront of championing the protocols that mitigate the spreading of COVID-19,” he said in an interview.
“We have adopted WHO (World Health Organisation) protocols, international best practices from our industry and have indeed documented guidelines as HAZ to help our membership cope and guarantee the safety of travellers.”
The industry has already forecast losses of between US$500 million and US$1,1 billion.
These projections are despite a stimulus package provided by the government to revive domestic tourism.
The continued ban on inter-city travel poses further challenges.
“As such, while the spiking cases and subsequent regulatory environment will erode the confidence of travellers, we are doing all we can as a sector to guarantee the safety of guests,” Chinwada said.
Previously a major foreign currency generator, Zimbabwe’s tourism industry has been on a decline over the past two decades, a setback attributed to economic and political upheaval.
– CAJ News