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Victoria Falls wins prestigious award

Zimbabwe’s prime tourism destination, Victoria Falls, has won a silver award for managing to sustain the livelihoods of employees and the community in general in the wake of the global Covid-19 pandemic.
Covid-19 was first detected at the end of 2019 in China and the coronavirus rapidly spread across the world resulting in successive lockdowns as Governments’ sought to contain the spread.
Zimbabwe introduced a national total lockdown in March 2020 and tourism, just like in other countries, was the hardest hit  as many operators shut down while more than three-quarters of workers lost their jobs.
Victoria Falls’ economy is hinged on tourism which employed close to 90 percent of the city’s population before Covid-19.
Faced with a population characterised by joblessness and possible hunger, various stakeholders in the city led by the Covid-19 Taskforce which comprised tourism players, local authority, civic groups and other departments and individuals, came together and initiated several strategies to keep the city going.
This caught the attention of the world tourism players leading to the WTM Responsible Tourism Awards Africa 2022  held in Cape Town recognising the destination with a silver award for sustaining employees and communities throughout the pandemic.
Ministry for Environment, Climate, Tourism and Hospitality Industry permanent secretary Mr Munesu Munodawafa said: “Tourism is the life-force of Victoria Falls as it provides jobs, skills and meaningful exchange with the rest of the world.
“This effort has been led by individuals, organisations and agencies that work together — it sets us apart, and long may it continue.”
The destination has bagged several accolades, some won by individual operators.
The prestigious award is in recognition of the tireless ingenuity and resilience of the community.
Some of the initiatives include the Food for Work Scheme where volunteers who included previously employed tourism workers, were helping clean the city in exchange for meals and food hampers.
The taskforce and churches also started a feeding scheme for vulnerable children and families who were given one meal per day between Monday and Friday.
Within six months of the start of the scheme in 2020, a total of 577 088 meals were served.
There is also the anti-poaching programme guided by Zimbabwe Parks and Wildlife Management Authority, the Victoria Falls Anti-Poaching Unit (VFAPU), the Wild Horizons Anti-Poaching Unit, Zambezi Horse Safaris, Victoria Falls Wildlife Trust and professional guides to increase anti-poaching activities for wildlife conservation and maintaining the destination’s environmental integrity.
Government also launched the national vaccination exercise in Victoria Falls in 2021 and the city became the first to reach herd immunity and become one of the safest destinations in the world.
Above all, there was the establishment of the “We Are Victoria Falls” initiative which, on behalf of the Ministry of Environment, Climate, Tourism and Hospitality Industry, coordinated a competition targeting small tourism entrepreneurs to upgrade their marketing material towards recovery.
– Chronicle


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