Fuel Crisis Takes Toll On Tourism in Eastern Highlands

Mutare — The fuel crisis being experienced in the country is impacting on the tourism sector as holiday makers are being left stranded while others are forced to cancel bookings.

According to Hospital Association of Zimbabwe (HAZ) Mutare and Vumba Chapter representative Leonard Bwanya, the development has isolated the Eastern Highlands while also plunging the tourism sector into a predicament.

“The fuel crisis is affecting regions that lack air connectivity more than others.

“The fuel crisis is really a major drawback. People cannot travel. I have been checking with other businesses at present. What is happening in the industry is pathetic. There is no traffic at all and there are people who are stranded in some places,” said Bwanya.

He said the problem was hindering growth of the country’s tourism industry, adding it was further isolating the Eastern Highlands from any benefit from the sector.

“This is now further isolating the Eastern Highlands which was now on the rebound as it is a cradle for numerous world-class sites like Mt Inyangani, Vumba mountains, Chimanimani mountains and Mtarazi Falls – the second tallest in Africa,” he said.

One traveller, Malvern Lopez from Portugal said there was need for Zimbabweans to address their fuel crisis as it had a negative bearing on the tourism sector.

“It’s so sad that the fuel crisis continues but it’s affecting this sector and more travellers will not visit this country until this matter is addressed,” said Lopez who was stuck in Eastern Highlands.

Apart from the impact the crisis has had on tourism, Bwanya said in his press briefing comments, the fuel crisis has exposed travellers to other life hazards as they often find themselves having to abandon their vehicles in the middle of nowhere and resorting to public transport use, risking their properties.

Government, through Zimbabwe Energy Regulatory Authority, hiked the pump price of diesel and petrol to ZWL$4.89 and ZWL$4.97 respectively.

However, this has not stopped the scarcity of the precious liquid as long fuel queues continue both day and night.

Bwanya said tourism players were now pegging their prices in foreign currency to avoid the daily burden of adjusting them every day using prevailing forex rates as dictated by the prevailing interbank rate.

“We quote our rates in US dollars and we use the rate of the day to convert it into RTGS,” said Bwanya.

He however admitted that any attempt to use spiralling black market rates would push players out of business.

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