The closing of borders and airspace affected the tourism sector the most as it relies on travel both from domestic and international destinations and according to UNWTO, 100% of global tourism destinations have been on lockdown for several months.
However, with no cure or vaccine that has shown positive signs from the laboratories, many countries have made the decision to begin opening up as a way of saving their economies from collapsing.
“We do so on the back of many weeks of hard work and commitment. This crisis has affected us all. Many, at every level of the sector, have made sacrifices, personally or professionally.
“But in the spirit of solidarity that defines tourism, we united under UNWTO’s leadership to share our expertise and abilities. Together, we are stronger, and this cooperation will be essential as we move onto the next stage.
“Our research shows that several countries around the world are starting to ease restrictions on travel. At the same time, governments and the private sector are working together to restore confidence build and trust– essential foundations for recovery,” he said.
Pololikashvili added that UNWTO united the tourism sector to assess the likely impact of COVID-19 in the first stage of the crisis and that it is also taking a leading role in the restarting of tourism.
“Now, as we change gears together, UNWTO is taking the lead again.
“Last week, we convened the fifth meeting of the Global Tourism Crisis Committee. Here, we launched the UNWTO Global Guidelines to Restart Tourism. This important document outlines our roadmap and priorities for the sector in the challenging months ahead, from providing liquidity for vulnerable businesses to opening borders and coordinating new health protocols and procedures,” he said.
“Members of the august House will agree with me that the sector has suffered the most. There are no tourists. Planes are not flying, the industry is virtually shut down. So there is need to support it,” he said.
Tourism is one of the key pillars of economic revival in Zimbabwe together with mining and agriculture but it is going to take long to bring the sector back to the level it was last year as it is anticipated that not many people will travel especially to tourism destinations.
Tourist who are likely to come in the early stages of re-opening the sector are those looking for business opportunities or those travelling on medical grounds. The country is not known for having a health sector that will attract people from other countries while investors are currently put-off by policy inconsistency in the economy.
Although Zimbabwe recorded high levels of returning residents since the start of the lockdown on 30th of March, their contribution will not count for much to receipts as the majority of them are not spending and have been in quarantine centres.