The tourism industry is set for a major boost following the establishment of a well-equipped Covid-19 treatment centre in Harare that will cater for tourists who may be diagnosed of the disease while visiting the country.
Tourists have often raised concerns on how destinations are prepared to take care of their conditions in the event they are infected by the virus while visiting and need hospitalisation.
But the HealthPoint Upper East Medical Centre, which opened in the Mt Pleasant area, will be able to take care of both the visitors and locals in case they need Covid-19 or any other general treatment.
The Covid-19 hospital has since launched a campaign under the theme: “Zimbabwe is Open for Tourism”, as it moves to reassure tourists that they can visit the country without worrying of what will happen if they fall sick.
Equipped with 26 ventilators and six HFNC machines, the Covid-19 treatment centre comes with a general ward, an intensive care unit, an isolation wing, a high dependency unit and a pharmacy, with a capacity to admit 60 patients at a time.
The establishment of the HealthPoint Upper East Medical Centre augurs well with the efforts by Government to ensure the country becomes a safe destination in light of the Covid-19 pandemic.
This comes after President Mnangagwa launched the National Tourism Recovery and Growth Strategy in August as he led the restart of the sector, whose contribution to the national economy had been heavily crippled by the outbreak of Covid-19.
During the launch, the President challenged players to work harder to achieve increased domestic and international tourist arrivals, and be creative and innovative by offering the target markets new products and services that continuously give the country a competitive edge in the region and globally.
In an interview, HealthPoint Hospitals chief executive officer Mr Peter Annesley, said they came up with the Covid-19 treatment centre for tourists after noticing a gap that could derail the revival of the tourism industry by the Government.
“The aim is to give confidence to the tourists who often wonder what Zimbabwe can offer them in case they fall sick when they come here,” he said.
“We have been emphasising on all the other protocols of avoiding being infected by the virus, but we seemed to neglect the main concern tourists always raise, especially on what will be done in the unfortunate event that they catch the virus and need to be hospitalised.
“This new centre is well equipped to cater for tourists in the event they need treatment for Covid-19. We expect more people to be interested in coming to Zimbabwe as they will know fully well that they can be catered for in case they fall sick with Covid-19.”
Mr Annesley said the Covid-19 treatment centre was established according to national and World Health Organisation standards and guidelines of prevention and treatment.
He said the health institution was in alliance with Ace Air and Ambulance, which has a good network for both road and air transport in case a tourist would need to be airlifted from any tourist destination.
It will be imperative for those in the travelling industry, including those offering accommodation and travel agencies to include the confidence boosting measure in their packages when they deal with tourists.
“The HealthPoint facilities and Ace hold admission and Memorandums of Access with United Nations and most embassies,” said Mr Annessley.
“The question that confronts many tourism agents outside the country during this time of Covid-19 when they deal with their clients is on how prepared a destination is when it comes to treating a Covid-19 case,” said Mr Annesley.
“We have all other equipment that one finds in Covid-19 hospitals in developed countries. We have all the elements that ensure comfort for foreign tourists, including the necessary drugs and specialist doctors. The tourists should know that if they come to Zimbabwe, they are covered in terms of the treatment of Covid-19.”
Mr Annessley said it was important for those in the hospitality industry to alert their foreign customers of the existence of the Covid-19 treatment centre so that they can visit Zimbabwe with confidence.
“It is one thing to have a travel medical insurance,” he said.
“It is quite another to have a state of the art dedicate specialist Covid hospital and other medical facilities and emergency services on the ground to cover you and your clients when you need it, where you need it. It is the seal that gives you as an operator, hotel or hospitality enterprise, customised comprehensive cover for your inbound clients.”