Tourism industry on the brink

TENDAI BHEBE
IN BULAWAYO

Zimbabwe’s hospitality industry is on the brink of collapse following a new set of Covid-19 pandemic restrictions, which are threatening to wipe out the sector, Business Times can report.

Hospitality of Zimbabwe (HAZ) vice president, Farai Chimba this week said the situation was dire.

He said the sector has appealed to the government to come up with initiatives of mitigating against unprecedented production loss in the wake of the coronavirus outbreak.

The impact of the lockdown restrictions, Chimba said, was far reaching, not only to the hospitality industry but to various value chain companies that feed into the tourism industry as well.

“Financial impact continues to haunt the hospitality industry. We have operated for over a year in the red. 

“In some instances, some operations have still not opened or have not had the number to qualify to be able to start operating. 

“This obviously has an impact on livelihoods and it also has an impact on businesses that have invested in this sector,” Chimba told Business Times.

He added: “We continue to pray that close to the end of winter we will be able to see a decline in the numbers in Covid-19 cases. We (also pray that) we will be able to see relaxations in the measures that are in place. 

“If not sooner, we will allow our membership to at least serve more livelihoods and save their operations that they have invested quite immensely in.” 

Chimba also indicated that: “We continue to assess how much is being lost in dollar value in terms of cancellations. Our travelling public has become weary. 

Those holidays that we were all banking on in our resorts have also seen postponements or cancelations.”

However, Chimba said the industry has been making adequate preparations to ensure that they operate and observe the Covid-19 regulations.

“We have worked quite closely with the Ministry of Health and Child Care. We have also worked quite closely with medical personnel in establishing protocols and standards that give assurance to the public that their safety is well taken care of. With the implementation of the Statutory Instrument, we have obviously seen the knock on effect especially
after the backdrop of the first quarter that didn’t do very well across the board in terms of the numbers in hospitality whether its occupants or revenues,” he said.

Chimba said the industry was worried by the rising cost of doing business.

“The major challenge remains the rising costs of doing business among them council rates and levies having gone up significantly across the country without revenues to sustain the increases.

“Accessing the relief fund facility for players remains a slow process which players have not been able to make use to resuscitate and rescue business which we continue to engage to make this a reality,” he said.

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