MOST tourism and hospitality players have announced steep cuts in charges for their services during the festive season as the industry turns to domestic travellers to recover from the aftershocks of the Covid-19 pandemic, which has restricted global travel.
With some traditional tourism source markets such as Britain reintroducing lockdowns to slow down a second wave of the disease, which has killed hundreds of thousands across the globe, experts say domestic tourism is now expected to carry the day. Already, thousands of employees in the sector have been laid off after months of a Covid-19-induced shutdown. Hospitality Association of Zimbabwe Matabeleland North chapter chairperson Anald Musonza said as operators, they have had to rework their marketing strategies, including value chains and the pricing of products, to make them affordable to local travellers.
“Tourism post-Covid-19 re-opening requires quite some strategic thinking and re-alignment of the product to the markets that are available,” Musonza said.
“At the moment, we have to be realistic that the only market available to us as an industry is our domestic market and that market has also had its challenges in terms of income streams that have been depressed, so in line with that we have had to relook at our product offering and packages to enhance the affordability and accessibility and service delivery chain to our local tourists.”
Musonza said even though the industry pinned its hopes on the festive season, the recovery was going to be slow as most of their international markets were still affected by Covid-19 lockdowns.
“We foresee a much longer wait for us to get international tourists to come back to us, so we have to rely on domestic tourists, that is why it is imperative upon all of us as operators in the industry and stakeholders to ensure that these products are available for the general population in Zimbabwe and the Sadc region,” he said.
“Many of our operators across the country have offered huge specials, some as huge as 60% from the usual normal rates so that we become attractive to our market and, as a result, we have started to see a bit of movement in the travelling community and we are really anticipating that as the festive season approaches we will start seeing the benefits of these reduced rates and prices.”
Under the strategy, many lodges and hotel rooms countrywide currently cost between US$50 and US$120 per night, down from between US$150 and US$300.
The slashing of prices coincides with the re-opening of domestic airlines and tourism activities such as the viewing of the Victoria Falls rainforest, high-adrenaline activities and game drives.