IT IS that time of the year where season’s greetings become the order of the day with everyone looking forward to a “prosperous New Year” as the final closure of year 2020 beckons.
travelling & touring
with Burzil Dube
This is also the period when hotels and lodges, especially in prime resort areas such as Victoria Falls, Kariba and Nyanga among others, record brisk business or rather take stock of their proverbial losses.
However, due to the second wave of Covid-19 pandemic which continues to take the world by storm, Christmas festivities were this year rather subdued and be a blessing in disguise to some of us.
While a lot has been spoken and written about this dreaded pandemic, yours truly will also continue highlighting it especially in the hospitality industry that is yet to see any signs of recovery.
This pandemic is here to stay despite the much-publicised introduction and implementation of new-found vaccines whose roll out is gathering momentum at lightning speed.
It remains to be seen if the vaccine discovery will have a positive impact in the travelling and touring industry which is still in the doldrums.
At the time of writing this article, tidings coming from the United Kingdom were that there would be no Christmas to talk about as Boris Johnson, that country’s Prime Minister, “banned” most activities associated with this particular merry-making or festivity.
This was reported to have been necessitated by the second pandemic strain and resulted in more than 40 mostly European countries being on high alert.
These countries have as well banned visitors from the UK for a specific brief period as part of efforts to halt Covid-19 from spreading through their borders.
However, the ban has also been effected by other nations such as Canada and Hong Kong who have also joined the fray on putting a damper on Christmas visitors from the UK.
This comes against a backdrop of Zimbabwe opening its borders to various international travellers whose move is yet to be felt within the tourism fraternity.
Last year during this period, most lodges and hotels in Victoria Falls reported brisk activities with locals outnumbering foreign tourists.
Activities such as boat cruises, bungee jumping and abseiling, among others, were oversubscribed. However, there is rather a glimmer of hope in the Eastern Highlands where most places are reported to be fully booked for the festive period.
However, it was not promising to be rosy from this other side of the provincial divide of Matabeleland North as the hospitality sector continue singing the blues.
Some of the “obstacles” are self-inflicted due to laxity on implementation of special packages for local visitors which continues to be rather elusive.
Yours truly has also in the past enjoined the powers-that-be to find ways on how local tourists can also enjoy some of the natural wonders at subsidised and preferential rates.
Zimbabwe’s pricing model for local tourists rather leaves a lot to be desired and may need to be tackled as a matter of urgency if the hospitality industry is to be a force to reckon with.
However, even if the special pricing model was to be implemented in this current period, takers would somehow be subdued because of the second wave of Covid-19 which is reportedly more lethal.
This brings to mind the clarion call constantly made by Mpilo Central Hospital CEO Solwayo Ngwenya who has in the past few months warned of a second wave of Covid-19 that could more deadlier than before.
His predictions have somehow come to pass and this may once again hit the hospitality industry harder while in the process threatening any form of gradual recovery.
The good professor had appealed for stricter measures on curbing the virus as well as social distancing and wearing of face masks being the catchword.
At this particular juncture, yours truly also joins the likes of Ngwenya who, while the festive season is upon us, has emphasised the need to diligently follow the universal health guidelines on curbing the pandemic.
Talking of merry-making, the New Year’s Eve period will be upon us with all sorts of parties being the order of the day.
Popular drinking places such as bars and shebeens, among others, have in the past been openly flouting laid-down procedures with the powers-that-be also turning a blind eye on the happenings.
While it may be imperative for one to partake in the festivities which come with Christmas and New Year, laid-down health protocols need to be followed and strictly adhered to.
The hospitality industry is not looking rosy as far as the pandemic is concerned and the onus is upon us to send the coronavirus into extinction.
Till we meet again in the next article.
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