Zambian President Edgar Lungu has ordered the re-opening of the Victoria Falls and local hotels to tourists in a move aimed at injecting life into a tourism sector crippled by the impact of the coronavirus pandemic.
The order was announced following a tour of the Victoria Falls on the border with Zimbabwe on Tuesday during which it was noted that water levels in the tourist attraction had significantly during the past few months and that the economy of Livingstone border town had almost collapsed due to the closure of the spectacle to members of the public.
“The falls are at their peak this year after several years of low water levels, but there are no tourists here,” Lungu said.
He said the falls, one of the seven natural wonders of the world, should be opened to tourists in order “to save jobs” and resuscitate the comatose economy of Livingstone town that relies on tourism revenue from the spectacle.
He however directed that the tourism operators and their clients should adhere to strict social distancing and other health protocols necessary to contain the spread of the coronavirus.
The Zambian leader noted that the closure of the Victoria Falls was suffocating the tourism sector, which contributed US$1.8 billion to the economy or six percent of the country’s gross domestic product.
More than 300,000 people rely on the tourism sector in Zambia.
Lungu has in recent weeks allowed the gradual reopening of economic sectors, more than a month after ordering the closure of all businesses on March 25 as part of measures to contain the spread of the coronavirus.
The pandemic had as of Tuesday infected 441 people in Zambia, with seven deaths.