IMPROVED business activity is being recorded in Victoria Falls as tour operators and hoteliers gear up for the festive season.
Some of the hotels and lodges reportedly have significant bookings mostly from locals for the festive season, the first meaningful bookings since the end of March when the industry closed after the outbreak of Covid-19. Tour operators, hotels and lodges closed operations as the country joined the rest of the world to impose travel restrictions. The Government later gave the greenlight for re-opening of the sector with strict adherence to mitigation measures.
The industry has been slowly re-opening in Victoria Falls with African Sun being the first to reopen its properties – Elephant Hills and Kingdom Hotel, more than a month ago.
Shearwater Adventures re-opened its Shearwater Explorers Village Hotel last week while Africa Albida Tourism, which operates Victoria Falls Safari Lodge, The Boma and Lokuthula Lodges is set to open on December 10.
Several other hotels and lodges have also opened and many are offering up to 50 percent discounted rates particularly to domestic tourists.
Hospitality Association of Zimbabwe (HAZ) chair for the Victoria Falls chapter, Anald Musonza, said many operators were coming back to normal business. Shearwater chief executive Mr Mike Adams said they expect full bookings on accommodation for December.
“We had been on a roller-coaster over the years but Covid-19 is the biggest challenge we have ever encountered. We have just re-opened most of our facilities including Explorers Village and activities like boat cruise and we will be open until Christmas time when we expect a spike in December but January and February will be quiet,” he said.
Adams said they will be offering special discounts to make products affordable to locals. He said the industry will start realizing meaningful business next year.
“There are tough times ahead but there is light at the end of the tunnel. Borders are opening slowly, which is good but for now income streams are still turned off,” he said.
Adams said he was hopeful that clients who had booked when Covid-19 broke out and have not cancelled their trips will rebook next year.
Shearwater Explorers Village was opened four years ago with 16 chalets and has expanded into a 96-room facility
The industry is recovering from headwinds caused by the Coronavirus, which has disrupted global travel and economic activity. Some operators have managed to retain most of the staff while others laid off three-quarters of workers.