Tourism workers prioritised for COVID-19 vaccines at Victoria Falls

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The rollout of the various COVID-19 vaccines is underway around the world. The Zimbabwean government is prioritising the ailing hospitality sector in Victoria Falls in deciding who will get COVID-19 vaccines first.

While countries have varied slightly on their rollout strategies, the basic premise of healthcare/essential workers and those at high-risk populations getting preference has been almost universal.

COVID-19 vaccines for tourism workers

With this in mind, the Zimbabwean government’s decision to prioritise the vaccination of the entire adult population of Victoria Falls seems at the face of it to be a little odd.

“As government, we want to make sure that our citizens and tourists are safe. That is why we took this bold move to vaccinate the entire tourist city. Victoria Falls is a city where tourism is the main business. Tourists and residents need to be protected from the virus”.

Dr John Mangwiro, Deputy minister of health and child care confirmed that the vaccine rollout in the city began on Sunday, 21 March. The “response so far has been positive among those receiving the vaccine”.

Victoria Falls’ economy post-pandemic

The COVID-19 pandemic has decimated the tourist town of Victoria Falls’ economy. It’s estimated that the city has lost nearly half its revenue due to the pandemic’s global effects on tourism.

This has inevitably led to job losses, with most of the local economy reliant on the influx of tourists to sustain their businesses. Luke Brown, co-owner and CEO of Vayeni Safaris, explained:

“We are upbeat about the government’s decision to allocate vaccines to the whole Victoria Falls adult population. This is a welcome development and one we believe will pay dividends towards our battered tourism industry’s recovery”.

Brown added that there is, naturally, “trepidation from some in the town with regards to the efficacy and side effects of the vaccine, but we believe this challenge will be overcome as residents come to terms with the widespread benefits”.

Other sectors to suffer

The town of Victoria Falls has a population of around 33 000 people, and the government decision means that some 77 000 of its Sinopharm vaccine doses will be allocated to the tourist town.

The decision seems to prioritise the economy over public health, though. With the limited supply of vaccines, the elderly and those most at risk have a right to expect some protection from their government.

It will be interesting to see what the reaction to the decision is in the coming weeks as the government decision to prioritise the tourist town will leave many wondering about its motives and just how much their leaders value the lives of the old and infirm.

Now read: Here’s why you need to visit Zimbabwe’s mighty Victoria Falls soon Protection Status


Original Article Posted on The South African