Ebola scare costs tourism sector

Zimbabwe has lost close to $6 million in tourists’ revenue following the circulation of news especially on the social media of an Ebola scare.

Karikoga Kaseke
Karikoga Kaseke

Karikoga Kaseke, the Chief Executive of the Zimbabwe Tourism Authority (ZTA) said by the end of September, his organisation had established that there was a sizeable number of tourists who had cancelled their visits to the country citing fears of Ebola.

“We have tourists that had booked, confirmed their visits and others who had already paid for their visits cancelling their journeys to Zimbabwe,” said Kaseke.

“Those that had already paid are demanding their money back and the e-mails to confirm the reasons for this are because they (tourists) are not secure because of the news about Ebola that are circulating on the social media.”

Last week, Wilkins hospital, shut its doors to patients and members of the public after a woman from the Democratic Republic of Congo who was suspected to be suffering from Ebola was admitted at the health institution.

However, the health ministry responded and said the woman was not suffering from Ebola although the ministry had sent samples to South Africa to confirm the diagnosis of the patient whom they claimed was responding well to malaria treatment.

Kaseke was speaking to journalists at a press conference held in the capital Harare regarding the Sanganai/ Hlanganani World Tourism Expo 2014.

He said although the impact of the Ebola scare was minimal on the international event, buyers from countries such as China, Malaysia and Europe had also cancelled their participation at the expo.

“We have 11 buyers from Europe who cancelled their participation and others from Malaysia and China who had confirmed their participation who also withdrew from the international expo,” said Kaseke.

“The expo lost a total of plus or minus 30 buyers following the circulation of the news regarding Ebola in Zimbabwe.”

Kaseke said despite these setbacks, the ZTA was optimistic of the success of the expo repositioned as “Africa’s Premier Business Exchange”.

“We are expecting a total of 80 buyers and 15 international media from all over the world with many coming from our primary source markets,” said Kaseke.

“It is our shared vision as team tourism that the expo will generate a lot of business and deals will be clinched.”

The ZTA said that projections for the success of the expo include that the fair would generate business that would in the long and short term boost the tourism sector.

“We are also hopeful that participants will benefit from well structured, themed and informative workshops that will take place during this fair,” said Kaseke.

“The workshops will spurn across key areas like information communication and technology, green tourism, professional conference organisation and young professional forum.”

Participants at the Sanganai/ Hlanganani World Tourism Expo are set to benefit through networking and meeting with exhibitors, visiting buyers, investors and suppliers and through establishing strategic business partnerships with world tourism stakeholders.

Post published in: News
  1. David Manley

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