travelling & touring:with Burzil Dube
WHILE the Christmas season was upon us and there were measured forms of merry-making due to issues related to how deep one’s pocket was, yours truly decided to stay put at his adopted lodgings due to health-related issues.
Well, it is not that yours truly was rather under the weather, but had somehow taken Covid-19 precautions whose resurgence and mutation continue to take most countries by storm.
The other most contributing factor was the scarcity of a well-lined purse as the majority of these prime tourist resort places continue to be beyond the reach of local visitors.
It is believed and considered that the Covid-19 second wave is more lethal and collective efforts need to be implemented as a matter of urgency judging by statistics from some Western countries.
Some of us decided to forgo merry-making festivities and were “marooned” at home because news from most international media houses was all about this particular pandemic.
It was all about the pros and cons of travelling and touring during this period with Covid-19 wreaking unprecedented havoc.
Staying put was the catchword.
While yours truly’s, financial capabilities were also questionable, it was rather ideal for one not to be a Covid-19 statistic whose mutation has taken the health professionals’ world aback.
The modus operandi for yours truly was the same during the New Year celebrations because at times prevention is rather more feasible than cure and one does not need to take chances in such situations.
Last week the United Kingdom was on most major news outlets all for the “right” reasons when more than a dozen countries barred visitors from this Commonwealth country as part of efforts to curtail the spread the pandemic.
South Africa also joined the list where travellers from this African giant were also banned from entering a number of European countries due to a new Covid-19 deadly strain.
During the past few weeks, Cyril Ramaphosa, the South African president, banned holidaymaking in Eastern Cape province specifically at Port Elizabeth, Jeffreys Bay, East London, Port Alfred and Port Louis.
Garden Route in Western Cape and a number of beaches in Kwazulu Natal were also closed for the duration of the festive season.
It would be rather a sad scenario in Zimbabwe if some of the country’s holiday prime tourist areas are also banned for being deemed Covid-19 hotspots.
Talking of prime resort areas, the Bulawayo-Victoria Falls road has now graduated into a death trap, especially the stretch from Hwange to the newly bestowed city of Victoria Falls.
If one is to be blunt, this road is now rather in a sorry state and is in urgent need of attention.
Accidents are now the order of the day due to the potholed road which is now proving to be a mockery to the hospitality industry.
The other time when yours truly made some form of “noise” was when a 3km Gwayi-Victoria Falls stretch nearly clocked three years without being completed.
It was later completed at lightning speed.
The same applies to the above-mentioned death trap of a route which some of us will continue to clamour for its refurbishment until the legendary cows come home.
At the time of writing this article, two long distance buses had serious accidents and were extensively damaged within a two-hour interval along this route.
Such issues may put a dent in the country’s tourism industry especially as far as the new city of Mo-sioa- Tunya is concerned.
To make matters worse, social media users constantly warn the travelling public on the dangers associated with using this particular road.
Some of them go to a further extent of posting photos of how dire the road is and pothole locations warning motorists to exercise caution.
It is everyone’s wish that this major highway will this year be attended to as a matter of urgency to avoid loss of both human and animal lives as well as putting the hospitality industry on a sound footing.
Anyway, that aside.
It seems players within the tourism industry in Victoria Falls have somehow heeded calls on coming up with some form of special packages for local visitors.
If recent media reports are anything to go by, indications are that more than 100 locals in the resort city were showered with complimentary tickets to sample various services being offered by those within the hospitality industry.
Some of the activities included bungee-jumping, white water rafting, full board accommodation, boat cruise, elephant rides and Rainforest tour, among others.
This was meant to afford locals an opportunity to feel what international tourists enjoy and why the newly bestowed city is a prime destination of choice.
It is reported that the whole exercise was conceived by “We are Victoria Falls”, a public-private partnership whose aim is to intensively market Destination Zimbabwe.
It would be ideal if other hospitality players in and around Zimbabwe emulate such a campaign as it will certainly go a long way in promoting domestic tourism.
There are thousands of people staying in the Eastern Highlands who, if funds were permitting, would have emulated foreign visitors by gracing Leopard Rock Hotel, Nyanga’s Montclair Hotel, Nyanga National Park, Holiday Inn Mutare or Mutarazi Falls, just to mention a few.
The same also implies to other regions were hospitality facilities are beyond the reach of the ordinary folks.
Kudos to the likes of Shelly Cox who have taken such a bold initiative while the proverbial ball is still in the courtyard of tourism players who, against all odds, need to come up with special discounted packages for local visitors.
The onus also lies with government through responsible line ministries to come up with flexible incentives so that there is no room for a chicken-and-egg situation.
Destination Zimbabwe is the way to go.
Let us continue to meet in 2021.
l Comments always welcome on: firstname.lastname@example.org or Twitter: @DubeBurzil