Government, tourism sector meet over rescue package

Kudzai Kuwaza

GOVERNMENT is discussing with players in the tourism sector on coming up with a financial rescue package following the impact of Covid-19 pandemic, businessdigest has established.

Kudzai Kuwaza

The Hospitality Association of Zimbabwe estimates that the sector could incur losses of between US$500 million and US$1 billion. The Zimbabwe National Chamber of Commerce estimate that nearly 25% of workers in the tourism sector will lose jobs.

Safari Operators Association of Zimbabwe chairperson Emmanuel Fundira told businessdigest recently that the 2020 season is a write-off as a result of Covid-19.
Tourism minister Mangaliso Ndlovu told businessdigest on Wednesday this week that he is in discussions with tourism players to come up with a rescue package for one of the country’s top foreign currency earners.

“The rescue package is not yet in place but we are hoping to have one ready soon,” Ndlovu, who is a member of the inter-ministerial taskforce on Covid-19 which is chaired by Vice-President Kembo Mohadi, said.

“We will arrive at a figure together with those we are working with in the sector, including the Zimbabwe Tourism Authority and the private sector backed by the Tourism Recovery Strategy. It will not be a thumbsuck figure. It will be a scientific backed figure according to available resources.”

Ndlovu also said he was working with tourism sector players to establish where health workers, who are treating coronavirus affected patients, can be accommodated to ensure that those who might get infected do not spread it to their families.

He said the taskforce has made “good progress” in the fight against the virus which caused a fourth fatality in the country this week with the number of coronavirus affected cases rising to 28 as of Tuesday.

Zimbabwe received more than 2,29 million tourists in 2019, mostly from Africa, Europe and America.The arrivals brought just under US$1 billion in foreign currency, while supporting thousands of livelihoods in tourist destinations such as Victoria Falls and Kariba.

The tourism and hospitality sector contributes 6,3% of Zimbabwe’s gross domestic product, while supporting fresh produce farmers, wildlife, transport and skin care product manufacturers, among other industries.

The cancellation of flights by Emirates Airlines, South African Airways and Kenyan Airways, among other major carriers, has compounded the dire situation where all hotel bookings and functions have been cancelled.