ZIMBABWE’S tourism sector is expected to lose between US$500 million to US$1,1 billion in potential revenue this year due to the outbreak of coronavirus (COVID-19), Environment, Climate, Tourism and Hospitality Industry minister Nqobizitha Ndlovu has said.
BY MTHANDAZO NYONI
In his speech at a meeting with industry players on the tourism stimulus package, Ndlovu said the pandemic had hit the country at a time it was already experiencing a dip in tourism arrivals. For instance, the year 2019 saw the country experiencing a 11% decline in tourist arrivals from 2,6 million received in 2018 to 2,3 million largely due to destination image issues.
“While for Zimbabwe an upturn in arrivals was expected in 2020, anchored on aggressive destination image promotion and marketing, the COVID-19 pandemic outbreak which started in November 2019 is expected to further dampen travel and tourism in Zimbabwe and indeed globally,” Ndlovu said.
Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Ndlovu said 2020 was projected to be a very difficult year for the tourism business as countries including Zimbabwe have gone into lockdown, while numerous business events have either been cancelled or postponed and flights have been suspended for a lengthy period of time.
“With this in mind, we have projected a three point scenario for tourist arrivals. The first is the best case (optimistic) scenario which assumes a 30% decline in arrivals and is based on the assumption that the outbreak will be contained by the second half of the year,” he said.
“This may see us registering 1,6 million arrivals by year end. The middle of the road scenario assumes a 60% decline in arrivals resulting from COVID-19 and this may see us registering approximately 920 000 tourist arrivals by year end.”
Ndlovu said the worst-case scenario assumes an 85% decline in arrivals to close the year at 350 000 tourist arrivals.
This is predicated on the assumption that the current restrictions on international travel persists until year end especially in the country’s major source markets of Europe and the US.
“Overally, we also anticipate a consequent fall in tourism business, with the country set to lose between US$500 million and US$1,1 billion in potential tourism revenue in 2020 from the projected revenue of US$1,4 billion,” he said.
As part of measures to minimise the damage caused by COVID-19, government has come up with a bank guarantee facility worth $500 million to assist the tourism sector to access working capital loans.
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