Vic Falls bounces back to life

21 Nov, 2021 - 00:11 0 Views
Vic Falls bounces back to life

The Sunday Mail

Society Reporter

AFRICA Albida Tourism (AAT) is charmed by the recovery of tourism in Victoria Falls following the Covid-19 vaccination programme and relaxation of lockdown measures.

At least 86 percent of the Victoria Falls adult population has been fully vaccinated.

Local tourism had slumped into a Covid-19-induced coma as several countries imposed national lockdowns and restrictions to contain the pandemic.

According to the Zimbabwe Tourism Authority (ZTA), the country suffered an 87 percent decline in both arrivals and revenue last year.

However, the tourism sector is beginning to show signs of recovery.

AAT’s Victoria Falls Safari Lodge last month recorded its highest occupancies since March 2020.

Occupancies across the hospitality group’s three properties — Victoria Falls Safari Lodge, Victoria Falls Safari Club and Victoria Falls Safari Suites — rose to 33 percent in October.

Other hotels in the resort town reported similar recoveries.

Tourism operators spent the greater part of last year closed due to the coronavirus. This year, average monthly occupancies for AAT were around 16 percent.

Before the pandemic, its flagship property, Victoria Falls Safari Lodge, enjoyed occupancies of over 80 percent.

AAT chief executive officer Ross Kennedy said while November has historically been a softer month, December, especially the festive season, was showing signs of being the busiest month since the start of the pandemic, with new enquiries and bookings still coming in daily.

“The forward-booking pattern seems positive at this time and from the second quarter of 2022 onwards, there appears to be real momentum building,” he said.

“There are, however, many factors at play across all source markets and the world, so we take nothing for granted in an ever-changing extremely competitive environment.

“We are seeing a trend of many more late bookings, with guests from local, regional and international markets booking, paying and staying within one to three weeks.”

Bookings for December are so far at 45 percent.

Apart from the improved Covid-19 situation, upgrading of the Victoria Falls International Airport and Government’s business and tourism-friendly policies have had a positive impact on tourist arrivals.

Access to Victoria Falls has been boosted with airlines flocking back to the destination.

Airlines currently flying into Victoria Falls are fastjet, Ethiopian Airlines, Kenya Airways, British Airways (operated by Comair), Airlink, Air Zimbabwe and Mack Air, as well as charter airlines.

The Lufthansa group’s new leisure airline, Eurowings Discover, will start flying into Victoria Falls from March 30 next year, increasing Frankfurt to Windhoek flights to a daily service, with a Windhoek-Victoria Falls-Windhoek tag flight three times a week.

ZTA head of corporate affairs Godfrey Koti said they are implementing a raft of measures to help revive the tourism sector. We recently launched ‘Meet in Zimbabwe’ campaign running under the Meetings, Incentives, Conferences and Exhibitions (MICE) that we believe will bring local tourism back to life again. Campaigns like ‘ZimBho’ have also produced positive results. We will continue to come up with different initiatives to improve the sector,” he said.

AAT has in the past years spent millions of dollars sprucing its image and adding new activities as well as accommodation options.

United Kingdom newspaper “The Telegraph” named AAT’s two hotels, Victoria Falls Safari Lodge and Victoria Falls Safari Club, among the best on the continent in 2018.

AAT also operates Lokuthula Lodges and The Boma, which is famed for its iconic Dinner & Drum Show.

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