Zimbabwe has reopened the Victoria Falls land border with Zambia for fully vaccinated tourists to allow the smooth flow of visitors between the two neighbouring countries. The development follows the successful rollout of a Covid-19 vaccination program that has seen more than 60 per cent of residents in the border town of Victoria Falls being inoculated, reports Xinhua news agency.
Victoria Falls town is home to the mighty Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe’s prime tourist destination, and one of the world’s seven natural wonders. The adjacent Kazungula border post with neighbouring Botswana has also been opened, with the majority of visitors being vaccinated. However, despite the reopening of tourist activities in Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe remains under Level 4 lockdown and other land borders remain closed.
Earlier this week, following requests from players in the tourism sector, the cabinet resolved to reopen the two border posts to allow tourist activities to resume between the countries.
Before the pandemic, more than 350,000 people each year visited the Zimbabwean side of Victoria Falls which is shared with Zambia to witness the natural wonder.
However, with global travel restrictions and national lockdowns, tourist activities were halted for the greater part of 2020.
Due to its heavy reliance on international tourists, Zimbabwe’s hospitality industry has been the hardest hit, and the sector is estimated to have lost at least $1 billion in potential revenue in 2020.
Following the successful rollout of vaccines in the resort town, players in the tourism sector are optimistic that the tourism and hospitality industries will return to normalcy.
Victoria Falls’s vaccination drive was launched in March with Sinovac vaccines purchased from China, and the tourist destination has become the first city in the region to archive herd immunity.
Nick Mangwana, Permanent Secretary for Information Publicity and Broadcasting Services, said that since Victoria Falls has since achieved herd immunity, President Emmerson Mnangagwa had directed that restaurants in the resort city allow sit-in customers.