Leonard Ncube, Victoria Falls Reporter
THE recent relaxation of Covid-19 lockdown measures presents a good opportunity for tourism players to pilot strategies to leverage on domestic tourism and building towards regional and international focus.

The need to harness domestic tourism gains comes as Zimbabwe joins the rest of the world in commemorating World Tourism Day, which is traditionally observed on September 27. The day is celebrated every year to raise awareness on the role of tourism within the international community and to demonstrate how it affects social, cultural, political and economic values. This year’s theme is ‘Tourism and Rural Development’.

Hospitality Association of Zimbabwe (HAZ) Victoria Falls chapter chair, Mr Anald Musonza, urged industry players to use the period to relaunch themselves.

“This month is critical as it comes when Covid-19 has devastated our industry. It’s time for a reset to re-strategise and restart our tourism and hospitality industry. People have been locked down and now it’s time to explore and experience various destinations across the country and the world over,” he said.

“We must also embrace domestic tourism as a launch pad to recovery and re-engineering of our product offerings. We must embrace this market and nurture it to growth,” said Mr Musonza.

Zimbabwe Tourism Authority (ZTA) acting chief executive, Mr Givemore Chidzidzi, also said the relaxation of lockdown terms was an exciting moment for domestic industry operations and beyond.

“We have been in lockdown and the tourism month has been blessed with re-opening of the industry and resumption of airlines. We are very grateful to the Government and to God for sparing us as a country,” he said.

Year 2020 will go down as a difficult year especially for the tourism industry because of the effects of Covid-19, which led to an unprecedented devastating worldwide closure of leisure facilities.

The global tourism sector lost US$320 billion in the first five months of the year with more than 120 million jobs at risk, according to the United Nations.

Normally September is regarded as the tourism month and in Zimbabwe various activities would be lined up in the build-up to the day. These include Sanganai/Hlanganani Expo, national World Tourism Day celebrations, Intwasa Arts Festival KoBulawayo and many other activities countrywide. Some are being held virtually while others like Intwasa have been pushed to later dates because of the new normal.

Environment, Climate, Tourism and Hospitality Industry officials have hinted that a virtual symposium could be organised this week as part of the celebrations. This time of the year is usually characterized by tourists from Asian countries until around November. — @ncubeleon