By Nokuthaba Dlamini
Tourism operators in Victoria Falls are pinning their hopes on the ongoing massive Covid-19 vaccination programme targeting the city for the safe re-opening of businesses after over a year of lockdowns.
The government has allocated 70,000 doses of Covid-19 vaccines from China to the country’s prime tourism city for the vaccination campaign that began on 22 March 2021.
Authorities say every resident of Victoria Falls, who is above 18 and has no health complications, would be vaccinated during a 28-day blitz.
Anald Musonza, Hospitality Association of Zimbabwe chairperson for the Matabeleland North chapter, who also heads the regional Covid-19 response task force, said immunisation was the only way through which normal business operations can resume in the city.
“Vaccination is key for us as an industry to restart and give confidence to the international market and also protect ourselves,” Musonza said.
“We have been promised 70,000 Sinopharm doses that will cover double jabs in a space of 28 days per individual and that will include everyone without health complications from 18 years and above.
“The teams will be targeting about 26,000 people both in (the city) and in peri-urban areas.”
Pregnant women and breastfeeding mothers are not included in the exercise.
Those living with chronic conditions such as hypertension, diabetes and HIV/Aids will be screened and advised before they can be vaccinated.
Victoria Falls has an estimated 33,000 residents.
Chinotimba Clinic, VictoriaFalls District Hospital, Health Bridge, Truck Stop Clinic, ZRP Clinic, Beat Aids Clinic and Pick n Pay supermarket square, are some of the areas that have been designated as vaccination points in the city.
Musonza said mobile units will also be deployed at hotels, supermarkets, and tour companies, among others, to speed up the vaccination programme.
Victoria Falls is Zimbabwe’s tourism hub and receives tens of thousands of tourists every year, but the disruption of travel due to Covid-19 globally has taken its toll on the resort city with many businesses facing viability problems.
According to a recent survey by, We are Victoria Falls, a local hospitality industry initiative, the lockdowns have adversely affected 94 percent of the employees in the city’s tourism industry.
It says 49 percent of the workers were forced to work reduced hours and to take pay cuts. At least 18 percent of the workforce is on unpaid leave.
“Twenty seven percent of staff has been retrenched, which translates to approximately 7,000 employees in Victoria Falls if extrapolated across the tourism sector,” reads part of the findings.
The report says only six percent of the tourism industry players in Victoria Falls are yet to take such drastic measures to save their businesses.
“Our businesses have been negatively affected and by taking these vaccinations and following World Health Organisation guidelines, we are hopeful that we shall be able to see a pick of numbers of tourists coming through as our destination will be safer,” Musonza said.
Fungai Musinami, the district medical officer, encouraged Victoria Falls residents to get vaccinated in order to reduce the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic.
“Our aim is to get everyone above 18 years vaccinated, and right now, I am busy with logistics and we shall be giving updates as the processes go by,” Musinami said. As of 23 March, 44,135 people had received their first dose of the Covid-19 vaccine across the country following the launch of the immunization programme over a month ago.