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Covid 19 lockdown cripples Kariba

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JUST as Zimbabwe’s tourism sector, fabulous destinations and the diverse hospitality industry were beginning to slightly recover after the devastating impact of the first and second waves of the Covid-19 global pandemic – the third wave struck.
NHAU MANGIRAZI
Another lockdown has been imposed and tourism once again is on the receiving end. One of the most affected tourist destinations in Zimbabwe is Kariba resort which in the northern reach of the country by the majestic Kariba Dam.
Kariba town lies in the northern border of the country with Zambia. It is a gateway to huge Lake Kariba, known for its houseboats, hippos and tiger fish.
In Kariba Heights, a lookout offers panoramic views of the lake. Nearby, the circular Chapel of Santa Barbara has a memorial to workers who died during the construction of the massive Kariba Dam in the 1950s. Surrounding Kariba, the Charara Safari Area is home to elephants and buffalo.
It also close to Bumi Hills, a group of hills and a luxury safari lodge in Mashonaland West province, situated on the hilly ground overlooking the southern shore of Lake Kariba.
Kariba is also not too far from Mana Pools – a collection of islands, channels, sandbanks and oxbow lakes resulting in a wildlife-rich safari – in the far north of Zimbabwe.
It includes the south bank and islands of the Zambezi River, which forms the border with Zambia. The park is known for wildlife species found by the river and in the flood plains. Large populations of elephants, hippos and Nile crocodiles gather at sunrise in the Long Pool.
In the park’s south, lions and other predators always lie in wait for rich and diverse prey around waterholes.
Kariba Publicity Association information and publicity officer Alois Chimbangu said the lockdown was “hurting the sector”, including informal traders.
“We are still finalising collection and collation of information and data on feedback from our stakeholders to be able to quantify the nature of losses suffered. However, initial indications are that there were many sudden cancelations as clients fear driving into a declared Covid-19 hotspot,” Chimbangu said.
“Many have also put on hold their travel plans as they are not sure for how long this state of affairs will last.”
He said although the tourism sector has been allowed to continue taking bookings, the hotspot tag has seriously impacted Kariba as a tourism destination. Obert Mapara who runs a marine harbour said tourism players and community leaders need to lead by example to inspire people towards positive behavioural change if Kariba is to get out of the lockdown.
“What we need is for society and communities to have a paradigm shift and appreciate the danger we are in. Most of us are community, companies, and church leaders. We are the trend-setters in this town. Are we leading by example? Are we doing what we are advocating on here? The very same people that we are saying do not understand apparently look up to us and when they see us not practicing what we preach, they relax,” Mapara said.
“I am also among the guilty ones. I have been to meetings that could have been virtual. I have been to a bar here and there, while talking about how people are being irresponsible in Nyamhunga and Mahombekombe high density, but not low-density pubs like Baobab, Mica and Heights yet I will be having a beer with some people who must act as well to educate the communities.
“Let us demonstrate that we are practicising what we preach and this will bring change in the communities.”
Chatwell Tanga, chairman of Kariba Kapenta Association, which represents nine corporates, nine small-to-medium enterprises in the informal sectors and 14 individuals in tourism and kapenta industries, said the sector has been hit hard by the pandemic.
Covid-19 has had a devastating impact on global tourism which made 10% of the global GDP in 2019 and was worth US$9 trillion.
Tourism plunged by up to 80% last year and sectorial spending is not likely to return to pre- crisis levels until 2024. This puts as many as 120 million jobs at risk, a McKinsey & Company report says.

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