First tourism destination in world to target 100% vaccinations

Victoria Falls has just started a destination-wide vaccination program to make it the first COVID-free tourism hotspot in the world, and we wanted to share some of the details with you.  

  • The government of Zimbabwe on Sunday prioritised the tourism sector (Victoria Falls) to begin a mass vaccination roll out initiative.  
  • Since Monday, residents and workers of Victoria Falls have been visiting centres and mobile units to get their first vaccination
  • With tourism the lifeblood of the economy and a precious foreign exchange provider for Zimbabwe, the government has put the sector center of its health and economic recovery plan, aiming to get Victoria Falls to be the first city in the world to be fully vaccine compliant. 
  • Today, His Excellency, the President of the Republic of Zimbabwe, Emmerson Dambudzo Mnangagwa, the Vice President and Minister of Health & Child Care Comrade General Chiwenga, and the Minister of Environment, Climate, Tourism And Hospitality Honourable Ndlovu landed in Victoria Falls to hold an official vaccination ceremony for the City of Victoria Falls.  
  • By end of today, a large majority of the hotels, lodges, camps and Bed and Breakfasts have had their entire staff vaccinated. In addition, organisations such as the Victoria Falls Anti-Poaching Unit who have worked tirelessly to protect the wildlife are now protected themselves. 

What does this mean for the tourism sector? As residents and businesses of this tourist town, we are thrilled!  Tourism was a major revenue generator for the country pre-covid and the impact has been devastating. This unique approach to prioritising the vaccination of the residents of Victoria Falls will be a game changer for the destination, building confidence in the international tourism markets and assisting in the recovery of tourism to the destination, and as a result will help recover the livelihoods of the residents here who were severely impacted by the pandemic.    

In July 2020 we conducted an initial impact survey with stakeholders in Victoria Falls and the impact since then has been far more extensive but we thought it would be valuable to share some of the findings from that first survey to highlight how important a recovery of tourism to the destination really is:- 

  • Impact on Employees as of July 2020 – 27% retrenched, 49% on short time, 18% on unpaid leave and 6% not affected
  • Impact on Turnover as of July 2020 – 50% downturn in comparison to 2019
  • Impact on Existing Bookings at the Time in July 2020 – 69% cancelled, 17% postponed

If you would like any more information, We Are Victoria Falls would be happy to help!  We represent the tourism community of Victoria Falls and can provide images or introductions to the following sources: local government, VF Covid-taskforce, tourism employees, local residents, business owners etc.