The Ministry of Environment, Climate, Tourism and Hospitality Industry has given a greenlight for all tourism activities to resume operations with immediate effect albeit strict compliance to COVID-19 health regulations.
Briefing the media in Harare this Thursday, the Minister of Environment, Climate, Tourism and Hospitality Industry, Mangaliso Ndlovu welcomed the decision by cabinet allowing the tourism sector to resume operations.
He also indicated that his ministry and other stakeholders are working together in developing effective health and safety guidelines for the tourism sector.
“We need to appreciate that this is a delicate balancing act between saving the economy and strengthening our response systems. 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 on arrival of guests, physical distancing markings at their premises, deep cleaning and disinfection of the facility among many others. On its part, Government will intensify compliance checks together with the relevant arms of Government to ensure players are fully compliant.”
Minister Ndlovu also highlighted how bad Tourism had been hit by the pandemic, saying massive retrenchments were looming in this sub sector, hence the decision to resume operations .
This decision by Cabinet is indeed welcome as it comes at a time when massive retrenchments were looming in the sector and such layoffs would have threatened the many lives that are dependent on tourism. As Government we acknowledge that it has not been an easy journey for our sector and I am aware that most players had to send employees on forced leave.
“Most employees were on half salaries, and in the worst case scenarios, on unpaid leave. The negative impact of the Coronavirus induced shutdown was felt across the whole tourism sector and its value chains. However, the impact was more severe in towns such as Kariba and Victoria Falls, which are predominantly tourism reliant cities. We hope that with this decision to reopen, the sector will breathe life into the sector and allow us to pick up the pieces again.”
Despite the impending resumption of all tourism related activities, the minister appealed to sector players to strengthen Health and Safety Protocols as they continue to spearhead a sustainable and resilient tourism sector for the benefit of all Zimbabweans.