Harare – Southern African countries are pinning their hopes for tourism revival on the rollout of COVID-19 vaccination campaigns.
Lockdowns have meant fewer people are travelling, and Southern Africa’s tourism sector has lost billions of dollars since the pandemic was declared in early 2019.
Namibia Ministry of Environment, Forestry and Tourism chief public relations officer, Mr Romeo Muyunda, recently said the arrival of vaccines raised prospects of a rebound. He said Namibia’s tourism industry lost more than US$220 million from the time the pandemic started.
“We are confident that the vaccines being administered elsewhere in the world will bring about hope to the struggling tourism sector. We expect the numbers of tourists’ arrivals to slowly pick up with renewed hope. Already we anticipate a decline in our annual tourist arrivals for the first time since independence, due to the pandemic,” Mr Muyunda said.
South Africa, too, is optimistic that vaccinations will breathe life back into tourism.
According to the Tourism Business Council of South Africa, the tourism industry is banking on quick and effective vaccination rollouts. Estimates are that the country’s tourism industry could require as much as three years to fully recover.
The recent launch of the second phase of Zimbabwe’s national COVID-19 vaccination programme in the resort city of Victoria Falls has brought renewed hope of revival of the country’s tourism sector.
Zimbabwe’s tourism sector has lost an estimated US$1 billion in potential revenue since 2019 due to the COVID-19 pandemic, which has seen a decline in domestic and international travel.
At the Victoria Falls launch, President Emmerson Mnangagwa said, “Vaccination further advances our country’s global obligation to combat the continued spread and negative socio-economic effects of the COVID-19 pandemic in line with the United Nations and African Union expectations.”
While the second phase of Zimbabwe’s immunisation rollout targets schoolteachers, religious leaders, the security forces, the elderly, and people with chronic diseases; it is also open to every one of Victoria Falls’ 110,000 residents as part of the government’s efforts to get tourists visiting the country’s flagship attraction again.