BY WINSTONE ANTONIO

ENVIRONMENT, Climate Change, Tourism and Hospitality Industry minister Nqobizitha Mangaliso Ndlovu yesterday said the national tourism recovery and growth strategy launched by President Emmerson Mnangagwa in August this year will guide the sector going forward after the COVID-19-induced slowdown.

Ndlovu made the remarks as this year’s edition of the Sanganai/Hlanganani – World Tourism Expo roared to life online due to the outbreak of coronavirus that has been declared a global pandemic.

“The hosting of the virtual Sanganai/Hlanganani — World Tourism Expo marks the beginning of many such initiatives that seek to position our destination to the local, regional and international markets,” he said.

Ndlovu said the uptake by both exhibitors and buyers at this year’s edition of the expo was impressive.

He said the virtual exhibition would run concurrently with webinar discussions that sought to inform and educate the industry on key issues that will impact on capacity to recover and grow the sector.

“The hosting of the virtual Sanganai/Hlanganani Expo is a much welcome development that is aimed at giving the industry a platform to interface with various source markets. I am told that as the virtual meetings commence this morning, the platform has allowed for pre-booking of meetings and I am certain that both parties will honour the appointments,” he said.

Ndlovu said they were convinced that the return of regional and international flights marked the resumption of regional and international tourism.

“Zimbabwe opened its borders to international travel via our international airports as of October 1 and we are looking at the gradual reopening of land borders in due course. We will constantly keep the markets informed of any developments that will affect their travel plans through our website and social media platforms,” he said.

“International, regional and domestic flights have resumed in three of our major airports. Currently to safeguard our travellers and our tourism champions, visitors are expected to provide a negative PCR test on arrival, taken no longer than 48 hours before the time of flight departure.”

He said quarantine for arrivals was not mandatory if the PCR test requirements have been fulfilled.

“Any arrival that does not fulfil the PCR test requirements will be subject to testing on arrival and mandatory quarantine while awaiting results. The results take at most 48 hours,” he said.

“While we have started taking baby steps towards recovery, it is a journey that we cannot undertake on our own, hence we celebrate the hosting of the virtual Sanganai/Hlanganani expo as it has brought us together to collectively work in mapping the way forward.”

He said his ministry remained open to both local and international partners who have solutions that will see Zimbabwe emerge as a must-visit destination post the pandemic.

“I am certain that with everyone’s involvement we are able to turn what has been a dark period for our sector into a resilient, vibrant and thriving industry to a reality,” he said.

Do you have a coronavirus story? You can email us on: news@alphamedia.co.zw