Nothabo Nyathi, Business Reporter
TOURISTS intending to visit Victoria Falls should not fear contracting cholera because operators have put in place the necessary hygienic measures following the outbreak of cholera in neighbouring Zambia last month, an official said.
The country’s prime resort town and neighbouring Livingstone across the Zambezi River in Zambia, share a lot especially in tourism with some clients visiting both towns in a single day.
There have been fears that the waterborne disease which broke out in Lusaka last month, could affect tourist arrivals as well as general business in the two towns.
Association of Safari and Tourism Operators Employers spokesperson Mrs Mercy Ncube assured tourists of their safety saying despite Victoria Falls and Livingstone’s proximity, the disease had not affected business locally since hygiene was priority number one.
“Hygienic measures are practiced as a way of preventing the pandemic. Washing of hands after using restrooms is encouraged at a time like this when our neighbour Zambia is battling with cholera,” she said.
Mrs Ncube said tour operators also acquire foodstuffs from Zambia among other countries and would continue doing so despite the cholera outbreak as they buy from the formal market which was safe.
“As tour operators, we also buy some food items in Zambia but what makes us safe is that we buy from formal businesses that maintain high hygienic standards. We don’t buy from open markets as we realise the risk that we can put our tourists in,” she said.
Mrs Ncube said systems had been put in place to ensure the pandemic is not transmitted across the border.
“If you noticed, the movement of vegetables, fruits and other fresh products across the Victoria Falls border has been temporarily stopped as a way of minimising the risk of importing the disease to Zimbabwe.
“The good thing is that there is no cholera outbreak in Livingstone hence Victoria Falls is safe but we will continue putting precautionary measures considering the free movement of people between the two countries,” she said.
Zambian vendors who cross the border daily to sell their goods on the informal market were stopped by authorities last week although some have been spotted within the Victoria Falls Central Business District raising fears of laxity at the border post.
They sell vegetables, green mealies, tomatoes, onions, mealie-meal among other items which Zimbabweans prefer because they are cheaper than on the local market.
Meanwhile, the Ministry of Health and Child Care officials from Hwange district have held two meetings in Hwange and Victoria Falls to raise awareness on cholera and intensify preparedness as well as activating the Civil Protection Unit in preparation for any eventualities.
Source: Vic Falls safe from cholera (16/01/18)