West Africa Ebola fears hit tourism sector in Zimbabwe hard

By Nqobile Bhebhe
Posted on Thursday, 16 October 2014 13:02

Zimbabwe Tourism Authority (ZTA) on Wednesday said since the outbreak, the sector has been hit by a number of cancelations, with the recent being the on-going tourism expo in the capital.

About 30 foreign buyers, 11 from Europe and the rest from Asia pulled out of the country’s biggest annual tourism event – the Sanganai World Tourism Expo.

Zimbabwe’s tourism industry is currently recovering after taking a knock due to political instability and an economic meltdown.

“We have had cancellations (for paid for bookings). People had paid for holidays in Zimbabwe and are demanding their monies back,” ZTA chief executive, Karikoga Kaseke, said.

“We have not done a total impact assessment on this Ebola issue but the amount of business lost is most likely to continue growing and surpass $6 million, as we approach the holiday season.

“I have been receiving complaints from tour operators, from tourism players who are incurring cancellations on a monthly basis ranging between $150 000 and $300 000 in revenue that we are losing because of these stories that are coming out.”

No cases of the virus have been recorded in Zimbabwe.

However, the country is on high alert and has instituted preventive and control measures, among them screening passengers and monitoring people coming from Ebola-affected countries within the previous 21 days.

According to the World Health Organisation (WHO) more than 4,000 people have died from Ebola.

Sierra Leone, Liberia and Guinea have been hardest hit by the outbreak.

Meanwhile, the Zimbabwean government has to date released $132,000 for Ebola training and awareness campaigns.

But the ministry needs an extra $3.5 million to adequately prepare for an outbreak of the deadly Ebola virus.

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