Zimbabwe’s tourism sector could lose more than US$1bn in potential revenue this year if travel restrictions persist in the country’s major source markets of Europe and the United States of America.
The forecast was made by Environment, Climate, Tourism and Hospitality Industry Nqobizitha Mangaliso Ndlovu on Thursday.
“Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, 2020 is projected to be a very difficult year for the tourism business as countries including Zimbabwe have gone into lockdown, whilst numerous business events have either been cancelled or postponed and flights have been suspended for a lengthy period of time. We anticipate a consequent fall in tourism business, with the country set to lose between US$500m and US$1.1 bn in potential tourism revenue in 2020 from the projected revenue of US$1.4 billion,” Ndlovu said.
He said the worst case scenario could see an 85% decline in arrivals to close the year at 350 000 tourist arrivals.
“This is predicated on the assumption that the current status of restrictions on international travel persists until year end especially in our major source markets of Europe and the US,” Ndlovu said.
The tourism sector is one of the hardest hit by the pandemic. Last year, Zimbabwe tourism sector experienced a 11% decline in tourists arrivals which stood at 2,294,259 from 2,579,974 received in 2018 due to negative perception.
Ndlovu also updated the sector on a raft of stimulus measures from the government.
Government will provide a bank guarantee facility worth ZWL$500m to assist the sector to access working capital loans from banks.
Ndlovu said in coming up with this decision government was cognisant of the fact that the tourism sector has lost substantial business through cancellations and postponement of travel since January 2020.
“We are also aware that access to lines of credit are often hampered by lack of collateral or often stringent lending conditions by the financial institutions. We believe the Bank Guarantee Facility will go a long way in helping tourism industry to kick-start operations. Operational details of the Facility will be finalised by Treasury and will be announced within the next few days,” Ndlovu said.