Victoria Falls and Kazungula border posts have opened for fully vaccinated tourists in a move aimed at reviving the tourism sector, which has been hardest hit by the Covid-19 pandemic since last year.
The development comes as Zimbabwe is expecting 1,5 million more Sinovac vaccine doses from China on Friday to augment the national vaccination roll-out, which has largely been successful.
As of July 26, 22 226 people out of a possible 27 000 people eligible for the Covid-19 vaccine, had received their first dose while 17 391 had been fully vaccinated in Victoria Falls.
This means 64,4 percent of the targeted population in the resort city had been fully vaccinated.
Speaking during a post-Cabinet briefing yesterday, Information, Publicity and Broadcasting Services Minister Monica Mutsvangwa said the decision to reopen Victoria Falls was in response to the call by tourism players to allow normal activity to resume under strict health protocols.
“Cabinet acceded to a request by the tourism industry to open the Victoria Falls and Kazungula border posts to tourists who are fully vaccinated.
“This is in view of the realisation that over 60 percent of the population in Victoria Falls has been vaccinated,” she said.
Travel restrictions across the world have resulted in less travel, affecting tourism globally in the process.
Although domestic tourism had partially kept the industry going, it has been unable to ensure profitability, under a situation where intercity travel is banned and land borders closed.
Despite the reopening of activities in Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe remains under Level 4 lockdown throughout the country as a way of slowing down the surge in new Covid-19 cases.
Last week, the Tourism Business Council of Zimbabwe urged Government to allow industry to operate under strict health protocols allowing vaccinated citizens to travel.
Reopening travel for vaccinated travellers has become the common trend globally as countries begin to reopen.
Morocco was the first African country to reopen travel last month and is already enjoying a tourism boom. Egypt has also eased restrictions to draw tourists.
Other countries that are slowly opening up include Botswana and Kenya.
With Victoria Falls attaining herd immunity, the resort town is more than ready to start receiving visitors and boost revenues from the tourism sector.
Minister Mutsvangwa said Victoria Falls, Kariba and Chiredzi had recorded the highest coverage in terms of administration of the first dose in the vaccine roll-out.
Zimbabwe aims to vaccinate 10 million people to achieve herd immunity and the arrival of the next batch of 1,5 million jabs on Friday will help ramp up the vaccination process.
On Sunday, Government received one million Sinovac vaccine doses, taking the total number of vaccines brought into the country so far to over five million.
Treasury has already paid for 6,5 million more doses while another 1,5 million is expected to be received under the Covax facility.
This will take the total number of vaccine doses purchased to over 12 million.
“Vaccination in border town hotspots and people’s markets is ongoing, with the highest coverages of the first dose being recorded in Victoria Falls City, Kariba and Chiredzi.
“Cabinet wishes to urge citizens to be vaccinated against Covid-19, in view of compelling evidence that vaccination reduces the need for hospitalisation and also reduces infection rates and deaths,” said Minister Mutsvangwa.
Nationally, 1 491 493 people had received the first dose of the Covid-19 vaccine by Monday while 687 216 had received their second dose.