The ongoing Covid-19 national vaccination programme is expected to play a critical role in the resuscitation of the travel, tourism and hospitality industry and across value chains, a senior official has said.
Speaking during the Zimbabwe Finance Conference hosted by Financial Markets Indaba (FMI) in conjunction with Business Weekly, Zimbabwe’s Ambassador to the United Kingdom, Retired Colonel Christian Katsande, said the nationwide vaccination programme was a ray of hope for the economy as activity increases and recovery from the pandemic first detected in China in 2019.
“The nationwide Covid-19 vaccination programme offers hope for the resuscitation of the tourism and hospitality sector in the country and the economy as a whole,” he said.
The travel, tourism and hospitality industry is one of the hardest hit sectors across the globe as economies closed borders to limit the spread of the pandemic.
Domestic tourism was also affected as intercity travel was also restricted as the country implemented various stages of lockdowns effective March 30, 2020.
Resultantly, local hospitality service providers closed some of their facilities due to subdued demand, for instance, Rainbow Tourism Group (RTG) temporarily closed two hotels in the resort city of Victoria Falls.
Its occupancy for the year to December 31, 2020 closed at 26 percent compared to 47 percent recorded in the prior year due to effects of Covid-19.
Chairman Arthur Manase has also indicated the group is now banking on the anticipated recovery of the travel and tourism sector across the globe, as the world over is taking on vaccination as part of efforts to limit the spread and severity of the pandemic.
“The tourism industry was adversely affected by the Covid-19 pandemic. While the current situation is likely to persist into early 2021, we remain confident that the tourism industry will in time rebound and set the hotel business on a path towards recovery.
“A glimmer of hope has come from the ongoing vaccine efforts around the world and in Zimbabwe. This process is expected to facilitate the quick recovery of economies worldwide as well as the gradual recovery of international travel,” he said in a statement accompanying the group’s financials for the year.
As the vaccination programme intensifies, 452 191 had received their first dose and 107 586 had received their second dose as of May 4.
Retired Col Katsande also highlighted Government’s commitment to creating a conducive environment that promoted investment across sectors and ensure the economy recovers. Already, the agriculture sector is anticipated to do well on the back of the bumper harvest expected this season, which is also expected to increase activity across value chains.
“Agriculture will anchor Zimbabwe’s economic growth. Maize for instance, we expect 2,4 million tonnes against domestic requirement of 1,4 million tonnes leaving excess for exports,” he said adding the NDS1 further reveals Government’s commitment to achieving an upper middle income economy by 2030.