As the tourism industry reopens in Zimbabwe, an increase in entry fees at some of the country’s popular facilities could hamper the move.
Changes in fees have been effected at the Victoria Falls Rainforest and Zambezi National Park, amid a major focus on domestic tourism.
ZimParks, the organisation that runs all national parks in the country, announced the reopening of the rainforest, effective this past Tuesday.
Another plan by the government plan to reintroduce inter-city travel, three months after the services were shut down due to the outbreak of the global coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, immediately followed the announcement.
While the move to reopen the tourist facilities, in line with the re-opening the economy, is welcome, it is likely to have a few takers for now.
This is because of a general lack of disposable income, worsened by rising inflation and a lockdown that saw some sectors lay off workers.
Entry fees to the Victoria Fall Rainforest cost US$7 or ZWL441. It costs $5 or ZWL$315 to enter the Zambezi National park. The fees are up from 30 bond notes before the lockdown announced in April.
Educational tours are now at ZWL77 per pupil at pre-school level and ZWL86 for primary school students.
Higher and tertiary students will fork out 50 percent of the normal fees.
A bus will pay ZWL637 while is charged ZWL192 to access the facilities. Private vehicles will pay ZWL319 while buses or tour vehicles with a capacity of 25 or more will pay ZWL2600.
Clive Chinwada, the Hospitality Association of Zimbabwe (HAZ) President, said it was imperative that entrance fees were affordable to locals in order to revive domestic tourism.
“It cannot be business as usual as we revive tourism. Victoria Falls is an international destination and its recovery is premised on attracting both foreign and local tourists,” Chinwada added.
He nonetheless expressed hope locals would embrace the revival of domestic tourism.
“We are hopeful there will be local takers of the product and as global airlines prepare to resume flights, international tourists will also come in,” he added.
Zimbabwe has earmarked domestic tourism as pivotal to the overall revival of a sector which, while is a lifeblood of the economy, has suffered years of decline.
The COVID-19 outbreak was the latest setback, the main previous hindrance being negative international publicity.