By Burzil Dube
THERE is a joke currently doing rounds in social media circles about a wedding that has been pencilled for a certain date in December that will certainly go ahead despite the bride having opted for a different groom altogether.
This might also imply to those that had already planned to enjoy the festive season in prime tourist destinations, who might be forced to have second thoughts following recent discovery of Omicron, a more transmissible Covid-19 variant.
The variant, which was first discovered in South Africa and Botswana has resulted in a number of countries enforcing stringent rules such as prohibiting visitors from a various southern African states into entering a number of European countries.
The United Kingdom, France, Japan, United States of America are some of the countries that have restricted passengers from southern Africa in what has been described in some circles as a rushed decision.
This is despite protests from South Africa who accused such countries of ‘punishing it’ over its discovery of the Omicron virus whose consequences is still under scrutiny even though there are indications that it could be more severe compared to previous Covid-19 cases.
The World Health Organisation (WHO) recently urged governments to consider what it called “rational” compulsory vaccination as it steps efforts to stem rapid mutation of Covid-19 virus.
The world health body, however, warned that blanket travel bans might not stop spreading of this pandemic.
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There are predictions that a number of industries might face turbulent times and some of them would always be on life support mechanism and their resurrection might constantly be subject to debate.
WHO has also urged those over 60 years of age to suspend their travel plans for this festive season as they could be more vulnerable to Omicron Covid-19 and this has resulted in some countries coming up with a number of contingency measures?
Some of the industries that have already been affected include those in travelling and touring circles as evidenced by the number of flights whose suspension or cancellation continue to increase on a regular basis.
During this time of the year most hotels and lodges would be fully booked with bulk of visitors coming from Zimbabwe’s traditional tourist source markets which ironically have barred visitors from various southern African countries.
These particular source markets, have also encouraged its citizens not to visit southern Africa as the pandemic is still in its infancy and very unpredictable.
It is pleasing to note that most tourist facilities are reportedly fully booked whose occupants are locals and it is Yours Truly fervent hope such as status quo would be maintained even though Omicron is dangerously lurching on the horizon.
However, there is gloom in the country’s tourism industry as the anticipated gradual opening up of this key sector has been suspended following detection of the latest virus variant, which has already paralysed some operations around the world and Zimbabwe is no exception.
Strict surveillance at the borders is currently being implemented and some measures that have been brought to the fore include mandatory polymerase chain reaction (PCR) tests for Covid-19 at all ports of entry and quarantine at own costs among other key issues.
As earlier alluded, Christmas festivities within the hospitality industry might mainly be composed of locals and it is hoped against hope that prices or rates would be affordable as there has in the past been some outcry over the pricing model.
It is plausible if all the lodges and hotels come up with a special pricing model for locals whose ‘discounted’ rates would be enticing enough to the general populace including Yours Truly whose miser characteristic is no mean feat.
It remains to be seen if the purported wedding date scheduled for December 25 will go ahead despite the groom having been substituted.
Only time will tell.
Till we meet again in the next column.
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