Tourism players seek return of intercity travel



AT a time when international travels remain restricted due to the coronavirus outbreak, local tourism players are lobbying government to lift the ban on intercity travel to revive domestic tourism.

The United Nations World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO) recently noted that the global travel industry has been hard hit by COVID-19, with international tourist arrivals envisaged to plunge between 60% and 80% this year, translating to a loss of up to US$1,2 trillion.

Up to 120 million jobs that are directly related to tourism are at risk in what is by far the worst crisis that international tourism has faced since time immemorial.

Hospitality Association of Zimbabwe president Clive Chinwada told NewsDay Business that there was need to relax intercity movement restrictions.

“Our initial thrust is to initially make noise around the loosening of intercity travel and eating out. Everything else will follow. The tourism and hospitality industry call for the easing of travel restrictions,” he said.

Chinwada said HAZ was working with other stakeholders in tourism to put in place incentives and promotions to boost domestic tourism.

“We are currently working with Tourism Business Council of Zimbabwe (TBCZ), the entirety of the industry to push through incentives and destination promotions, but these will be of no effect under the current conditions,” he said.

TBCZ chief executive Paul Matamisa also pleaded with government to lift the ban on intercity movement which was put in place to contain the spread of the deadly coronavirus.

“We are working as a team together with various organisations that include Hospitality Association of Zimbabwe, Zimbabwe Tourism Authority and the Tourism ministry. We want the tourism activities to start over, the national parks to start functioning and the movement of people to be eased. There is no point to say we want domestic tourism to function and yet there are no ways to access these facilities. So we are waiting for the ministry to respond to our request,” Matamisa said.

In the absence of international tourists, there were consultations with various organisations to come up with packages that were attractive and accessible to locals, he said.
Government has promised a $500 million support package to assist tourism operators through the lockdown period.